A pitchers dual between Fort Mill and Gaffney in the District III softball championships suddenly turned into a small slugfest with one wrong pitch giving Fort Mill the 2-1 win.
Fort Mill head coach Chuck Stegall got the one run lead in the bottom of the sixth inning Wednesday night, and decided to go with bringing starter Bella Roy back to out to finish the game despite her having a shaky sixth inning where she gave up a run on three hits. Roy missed part of the season with a leg injury and is not yet back up to 100 percent. She was also battling a head cold during the game.
“She is trying to work herself back to full speed,” Stegall said. “But we put our stock in what we had.”
Next up for the Yellow Jackets is a home game Friday night against JL Mann.
Against Gaffney, Fort Mill struck first in the early going as Lauren Collie drove in a run in the bottom of the first to put the Jackets on the board. Fort Mill threatened in the bottom of the third as Brynn Bartolini singled and reached third on a two base error. However, she was left stranded to end the inning after Emily Harris flew out on her at-bat.
As the game wore on both pitchers seemed to strengthen in their performances. Roy, while giving up the occasional walk, managed to get out of any jams she would get in with the walks. Gaffney’s Abigail Price on the other had had her defense backing her up as she allowed just two hits through four innings of work.
Gaffney didn’t get their first hit of the game until the sixth inning as Roy gave up a single to Faith Belue to start the inning. The Indians would get on the board to tie the game two batters later as Hannah Medley would single to drive in Belue. Gaffney would threaten with getting two more hits in the inning, but Roy would work her way out of the jam and leave two runners strangled for the Indians.
In the bottom of the sixth, Fort Mill’s Payton Lemire launched a two out solo home run to right center to put the Jackets up 2-1. Lemire went 1-3 in the game with the home run as her only hit. Price kept pitching Lemire outside, which she said surprised her that they never changed things up.
“I was expecting them to throw me outside,” she said. “I had seen them before and that is where they always pitched me.”
Roy’s performance was pretty dominating. She pitched a complete game and stuck out 10 while walking four. She had a no-hitter entering the sixth inning. She gave up four hits and just one earned run. Roy said she bucked down in the seventh inning to make sure Gaffney didn’t tie the game.
“My thought was to make sure we had to hold them and shut them down,” she said. “As a team we are getting stronger.”
Lemire was one of four Fort Mill hitters to get a hit as the Jackets only got four hits in the game. Bartolini also went 1-3 and both Collie and Keri Nissen went 1-2 in the game.
Fort Mill will now host JL Mann, which defeated Hillcrest Wednesday, in the first round of the Upper State playoff bracket Friday. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.