Fort Mill Times

Fort Mill in fight for playoffs in final weeks

Fort Mill right fielder Jacob Pizzuto lays out to try and catch a fly ball during a game against a team from Grove City, Ohio, last week.
Fort Mill right fielder Jacob Pizzuto lays out to try and catch a fly ball during a game against a team from Grove City, Ohio, last week.

The Fort Mill High School baseball team may be in a stretch run of crucial games, but that doesn't mean it can't have some fun along the way.

The team hosted Grove City High School from just outside Columbus, Ohio, for a doubleheader and respite from region play.While the Greyhounds gave the Yellow Jackets all they could handle, defeating the Jackets in game one, 7-3, and dropping a 10-7 shootout in the nightcap, stepping out of the region was still a relief for Fort Mill, which is fighting for its playoff life in every region game late in the season."First of all, we want to make the playoffs, but we need to have fun with the game we play. I think we just need to relax and we'll get our swings back," said Fort Mill's team captain, senior center fielder Tyler Miller.After splitting the doubleheader with Grove City, the Jackets dropped an April 7 game at York, leaving them scratching their heads as to how they will break out of a fourth-place tie with Nation Ford and put themselves in playoff position with three region games remaining."We hold our own destiny. We still play Nation Ford one more time, and if we win the rest of our region games, we're in. It's in our hands," Head Coach Brad Mercer said. "It's good news that we're in the driver's seat."The Jackets (7-7, 2-5 in the region) remain optimistic, and although winning three straight region match-ups would more than double their region win total thus far, Mercer said he has seen good things during the last week or so and he believes they can do it."We fell behind Grove City 7-0 in the second game but we turned it on late and came back," Mercer said. "Our guys do a good job of keeping their composure late in games and coming through under pressure."It's something that Mercer hopes his team can replicate on a larger scale, coming through with wins under pressure late in the season."We have several seniors, sometimes four or five in the starting lineup," he said. "They have been coming up big for us all season."Miller, who is typically the leadoff hitter for the Jackets, has been swinging the bat and playing center field well all season and senior Eli Windham, also a team captain, has been an important multipurpose player for the team pitching and batting, Mercer said."The season is in our control - it's up to us to get it done," Windham said. "We just have to play up to our potential."While the upperclassmen may be called upon for leadership during the stretch run, Windham said the younger players are doing their part as well."We do have a lot of experience on this team, guiding the younger guys, but they are beginning to step up into leadership roles too," he said.Other upperclassmen, including pitcher Robbie Thompson and second baseman Danny Till, have been stepping up their games, Mercer said, but Windham and Miller agreed that it would take an entire team effort to push the Jackets into the playoffs.During spring break, however, the team will get a chance to work on their swings and relax a little bit. The Jackets are competing in a tournament in Hilton Head for the first half of the week, hosted by Bluffton High School, before returning to close out their schedule next week.