Fort Mill dropped into the losers brackets of the Class 4A high school softball playoffs with a 5-2 loss at Byrnes Tuesday night.
The Yellow Jackets play host to Mauldin on Saturday in an elimination game. Byrnes plays at Laurens.
Fort Mill coach Chuck Stegall said he was disappointed his team didn’t perform as he anticipated.
“We never got in our groove; we didn’t get in our game,” he said. “We had a plan to come up here and do what we do, but it just didn’t materialize.
“We’ll work on stuff like that. We’re a young team; we’ve got a lot of potential. You’ve got to take potential to the field and finish it. We didn’t. We brought potential up and we just didn’t finish our job.”
Missed early opportunity hurt the Yellow Jackets.
Fort Mill got its first two runners on base in the second inning, but the next three batters popped out on the infield.
In the bottom of the inning the Rebels produced two ruins on a walk to Christa Whitesides and doubles by Kasey Widmyer and Malibu Gaston.
Stegall said the second inning turned momentum in Byrnes’ favor.
“When you come up here and play Byrnes … they’re a state championship-caliber team; they won last year,” Stegall said. “You’ve got to expect to be momentum-swings both ways.”
Cassie McInerney’s bases-loaded single got Fort Mill a run in the fourth, but Byrnes escaped more damage when Bella Roy flied out to center field and Allison Neely threw out courtesy runner Kalia Kyzer at home as she tried to score the tying run.
Byrnes coach Brandi Aiken said Neely made a big play.
“Obviously, she has a great arm,” Aiken said. “That’s a huge play right there to not have it tied again. It’s always huge when we can make a good play and she does a good job of that.”
Stegall said hesitation on the bases contributed to the inning-ending out and once again shifted momentum to the Rebels.
“We had a mental error, and it gave them fire,” Stegall said. “To be honest, you can’t come up to Byrnes and give them any gas. The minute you give them a chance to find something to cheer about; get excited about, they will, and that’s what they do.”
The Rebels tacked on three runs in the fifth with the aid of a two-out, two-run error by Fort Mill and a double by Whitesides.
Fort Mill scored the game’s final run with the help of a Byrnes error in the sixth, but Messenger retired the final five batters.
“I thought Regan threw great,” Aiken said. “The top of their lineup, especially (Payton Lemire and Collie) are good hitters. (Messenger) did a good job of not putting people on in front of them. We talked about working the bottom of the lineup so they wouldn’t get a lot of at-bats and she did that, too.”
Collie and McInerney and two hits apiece for Fort Mill. Roy pitched a five-hit complete game for the Yellow Jackets, retiring Byrnes in order three of the last four innings.
Byrnes 5, Fort Mill 2
Roy (L) and Collie. Messenger (W) and Gaston. 2B – Collie (FM), Rayborn (FM), Whitesides (B), Widmyer (B), Gaston (B), Records – Byrnes 22-5.