An error in the fifth inning was just enough to allow Fort Mill a 1-0 softball win over rival Nation Ford.
The game ended the regular season for both teams and each begins the playoffs this week. Fort Mill wrapped up the Region IV title with a perfect 8-0 record and will be a No. 1 seed in the playoffs, while Nation Ford finished second in the region and will be a No. 2 seed. Fort Mill finished the regular season at 21-4, while Nation Ford went 5-3 in region play and 16-7 overall.
The teams combined for eight hits in the game, with the Jackets getting only three of those in the win. Both starters, Fort Mill’s Bella Roy and Nation Ford’s Mackenzie Gaston, performed well. Payton Lemire even came in for two scoreless innings for Roy to get the save for the Jackets.
“We didn’t’ do the things we normally do,” said Fort Mill head coach Chuck Stegall. “They (Nation Ford) knew exactly what they had to do.”
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Each team got a hit in the second inning, as Nation Ford’s Janelle Ilacqua, an eighth-grader from Banks Trail Middle, who went 2-3 in the game, doubled to put some pressure on Roy. However, Roy, the Jackets' ace, battled back to get one of her eight strikeouts to finish off the top half of the second inning. In the bottom half of the second, Fort Mill got its first hit – a double by Emma Tisdale, but like Ilacqua, was left stranded on second.
In the fifth, Fort Mill’s Regan Smith doubled to lead off the inning and two plays later scored on an errant throw to first allowing Keri Nissen to reach base. Gaston added another base runner on a fielder’s choice, but got out of the inning without any more damage being done. Smith, Tisdale and Lemire all went 1-3 in the game.
“Sometimes we can get by on just one error,” said Nation Ford head coach Craig Brown. “Today we couldn’t. We are playing some good ball. That is a quality team and we hung with them.”
Nation Ford threatened in the top of the seventh inning as they would put two runners on with the help of two singles from Carly Gardner and Ilacqua, but Lemire would strike out the last two Falcons’ batters to end the game.
Mac Banks: firstname.lastname@example.org, @MacBanksFM