Once again, the Fort Mill Lady Jackets have played their way into a corner and hope to come out swinging with a rally in the Upper State playoff bracket.
After capturing the District I title by winning three straight elimination games, all on the road, Fort Mill lost in the opening game of the Upper State championship bracket 8-2 to Clover May 8.
The Lady Jackets were scheduled to play the loser of the Northwestern/Boiling Springs game May 11 in a must-win game in the double elimination format. Fort Mill head coach Chuck Stegall said he was disappointed in how the team came out against Clover.
“We rode an emotional high for five days,” Stegall said. “We had a lot of stuff going on. We just had a case of where we didn’t come to play ball.”
Earlier in the week, in its first potential elimination game against defending AAAA state champions Byrnes, Fort Mill rode the arm of freshman pitcher Bella Roy, who struck out 10 batters and allowed just two hits in the 1-0 win.
In the top of the fourth against Byrnes, shortstop Payton Lemire singled and second baseman Taylor Rayborn walked before third baseman Cassie McInerney drove in Lemire on a single for the Lady Jackets’ only run of the game.
Fort Mill scattered seven hits during the game and threaten several more times, but didn’t score more runs. In the bottom of the fifth, Roy gave up a double, which looked like it bounced foul, but was called fair. Roy walked the next batter and gave up a single to load the bases, but worked her way out of the jam.
Byrnes threatened again in the bottom of the sixth, but center field Kennedy Wolf robbed Byrnes of a potential two-run home run with a leaping catch at the fence, preserving the shut-out.
“Bella had ice water running through her veins,” Stegall said. “These kids have a lot of guts.”
Against Laurens in the District I championship, Fort Mill had to sweep a doubleheader on the road to make it to the Upper State bracket.
In the first game, Fort Mill scored in the top of the first, but Laurens came back in the bottom of the first to tie the game at 1-1.
Once again, Roy got the start on the mound and also went 2-3 with two RBI at the plate. She knocked in Wolf to give Fort Mill the lead. The Lady Jackets added two runs in the fourth inning as Wolf started the inning with a single and scored on a Roy single. Roy later scored herself on a single by outfielder Amelia Majcina.
Fort Mill won the first game 5-1 as Roy allowed one run on four hits, while walking one and striking out seven.
Roy took the circle again in game two and again went the distance. She again allowed just one run on five hits, while walking three and striking out eight.
The Lady Jackets took the lead in the second inning as Rayborn hit a solo home run to put them up 1-0. Two innings later, Lemire hit a solo shot of her on to double the Fort Mill lead.
Laurens scored in the sixth inning to cut that lead in half at 2-1, but Fort Mill stayed in control and scored two runs in the top of the seventh. Majcina singled with two outs and outfielder Joslyn Halcom doubled in Majcina. First baseman Julia Rajcok singled in Halcomon the way to a 4-1 win.