If there is one thing Payton Lemire has, it's a flare for the dramatic.
For the second straight game, the Fort Mill senior broke a tie game for the Jackets with a solo home run. Lemire's shot in the sixth inning against the JL Mann Patriots helped lead Fort Mill to a 4-2 win in the Upper State softball playoffs.
With the game tied at 2-2 in the sixth, Lemire provided the heroics for the second straight game for Fort Mill. She broke a 1-1 tie against Gaffney in the District III championship with a solo shot in the sixth inning in that game as well.
“That is my favorite inning,” she joked. “The team is doing really well collectively.”
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Fort Mill now plays Byrnes at home tonight with the winner going to the Upper State finals.
The Jackets got just six hits in the game against JL Mann, but those hits were timely and they managed to break through when they needed too.
In the bottom of the first, the Jackets were aided by two Patriot errors to go up 2-0 as Lauren Collie drove in two runs. Fort Mill got two hits in the inning and from that point went without a base runner until the fifth inning.
Defensively, Fort Mill relied on senior Bella Roy, who pitched a complete game allowing six hits and two runs, while waking a couple and striking out 12. In the fourth inning, back-to-back doubles for the Patriots plated their first run of the game. However, Roy would work her way out of the jam by striking out the final two hitters of the inning.
In the fifth inning, JL Mann tied the game at 2-2 on another double. However in the bottom of the inning, Fort Mill started to see some cracks in the Patriot pitching as Keri Nissen singled, though she was left stranded on third.
Fort Mill head coach Chuck Stegall said the team is at a place where they aren’t going to worry about mistakes that may happen in the game and they are just going to keep their head down and push through any adversity.
“We are in a mode where we are just going to plow through and do what we have to do,” he said.
Then in the sixth inning after Lemire's home run, Collie doubled and would score on an Emma Tisdale single as Collie didn’t bother to slow down and was given the run after the JL Mann catcher blocked the plate as Fort Mill scored two runs on three hits in the inning.
Fort Mill got some help in the seventh despite the Patriots getting the lead off hitter on in the inning by their only error in the game. The runner on first would leave first base too early on a fly out to left field and would get called out on the double play. Roy would then get the next batter to ground out to secure the win for the Jackets.
Mac Banks: firstname.lastname@example.org, @MacBanksFM