A pitchers dual quickly was ended with two swings of the bat as the No. 1-ranked Fort Mill Yellow Jackets beat Nation Ford 4-1 to take a season sweep over their cross-town rivals.
Tied at 1-1 entering the top of the seventh inning, Fort Mill’s No. 9 hitter Joslyn Halcom took starter Ashton Irvin deep to left field to give the Jackets a 2-1 lead. Moving back to the top of the order, leadoff hitter Julia Rajcok did the same thing one swing later, homering to right field to bring the Fort Mill faithful to a frenzy.
That gave Fort Mill a 3-1 lead and the Jackets added another run when Keri Nissen singled in Payton Lemire.
Fort Mill starter Bella Roy went the distance for the Jackets, striking out 13 and allowing just four hits. Roy was coming off a 17-strikeout, no-hit performance against York. Roy struck out seven of the first nine batters and Nation Ford didn’t get its first hit until back-to-back singles from Chanel Turner and Darby Trull in the fourth.
Neither team scored through the first five innings. Fort Mill head coach Chuck Stegall wasn’t surprised.
“We always expect this from them,” Stegall said. “We always expect we have to fight and claw our way against them. This is a huge win for us. This is what we practice for.”
One thing that Stegall said he didn’t expect was the back-to-back jacks by Halcom and Rajcok. In the top of the sixth, Lauren Collie led off with a single and would score on a RBI single from Kennedy Wolf to put Fort Mill in the lead.
In the bottom of the inning, Nation Ford came right back to score and tied up the game. The Falcons’ Sabrina Johnson walked and then was driven in two batters later on a RBI single from Trull.
Then the top of the seventh with the home runs deflated Nation Ford’s hopes.
“That is what the No. 1 team in the state is supposed to do,” said Falcons’ coach Michael Kidd. “I really couldn’t have asked for any more from my girls. We put the ball in play, but we also had too many strikeouts.”
Trull led Nation Ford at the plate going 2-3 and Rajcok led Fort Mill going 3-4. Collie went 2-4 also for the Jackets. Irvin pitched well for Nation Ford having just the one bad inning, but was replaced after the second home run. She allowed three runs on seven hits, while walking three and striking out three.
Nation Ford drops to 2-4 in Region III play, while Fort Mill improved to 8-0 in region and 17-2 overall.
Earlier in the week, Fort Mill shut out York 11-0, while the Falcons fell to Northwestern. Fort Mill will play Rock Hill and York this week in region games, while Nation Ford will play against York and Northwestern.
Mac Banks: email@example.com, @MacBanksFM