The Clover Blue Eagles took advantage of a four-run second inning, aided by three walks and two Fort Mill errors, to claim an 8-2 victory over the Yellow Jackets in the first game of the Upper State softball playoffs Friday night. With the win the Eagles will be at home Monday to face the winner of Saturday’s Northwestern-Boiling Springs contest.
The Yellow Jackets had prevailed over the Blue Eagles in both regular season games and Clover coach Shea Hall felt that gave her team an extra push.
“We came out ready to play,” said Hall. “Losing to them twice was motivation for us. Elizabeth (Edmunds) pitched well for us and we felt if we kept tacking on runs we didn’t anticipate them (Fort Mill) having a big inning.”
The hosts were able to give Edmunds the early cushion in the fourth frame with all four runs coming with two outs. With the bases loaded after an error and two walks by Fort Mill starting pitcher freshman Bella Roy, Micah Sherwood was issued a free pass to make the score 1-0, Clover. Senior Blake Wallert followed with a two-run single to left before a bloop base hit to shortstop by Tiffany Dominique closed out the inning and made the score 4-0.
Fort Mill had had missed a golden opportunity to break on the board in the first inning after loading the bases on an error and singles by Julia Rajcok and Lauren Collie but Edmunds steadied herself and forced to force outs at home plate. She finished the game by surrendering six Yellow Jacket hits, fanning four, and issued no walks.
“I was shaky in the beginning,” said Edmunds. “But I was able to gain my confidence and the defense had my back and we started hitting. We were extra motivated (after the two regular season losses) and Coach Hall had told us it was hard to beat a good team three times (in one season) and we brought it tonight.
“Whoever we play next we will bring our game. We have great fans behind us and I am really excited that we will playing at home Monday.” Edmunds finished strong by retiring nine of the last 10 batters she faced.
On the other side Roy, a freshman, finished her night by recording nine strikeouts but was victimized by four walks, three in the second inning, and a pair of errors that proved costly in the Yellow Jackets’ loss. On the offensive side for Fort Mill, Ratcock collected half of her team’s six hits that included a pair of doubles and an infield single.
“We had been on an emotional high for the last five days,” said Fort Mill coach Chuck Stegall, referring to his team’s three elimination game winning streak to capture the District 1 championship. “We had been pumped for five days and we did not play good tonight. We were not totally focused but I’m proud of the way we hung tough. We leave a win on the field and we leave a loss on the field. Clover is a great team.”
Stegall wanted to especially make note of the atmosphere at the game.
“Their crowd was awesome,” Stegall said. “I have so much respect for Shea and her program. It’s an honor to come over here.”
Clover 8, Fort Mill 2
WP – Elizabeth Edmunds LP – Bella Roy
Leading Hitters: FM – Joslyn Hallon 1-4, 2b; Julia Ratcock 3-4, 2 2b, lb; Lauren Collie 1-3; Bella Roy, 1-3. Clover- Blake Wallert 1-3, 2rbi; Tiffany Dominique, 2-3; Marisa Harkey 1-3, 2 rbi; Shania Dominique 1-2, rbi; Katie Robinson 1-3; Micah Sherwood, 1-3.