Fort Mill’s Sydnie Spears gives a high five to third base coach Will Jameson after her two-run home run against Hillcrest during Wednesday’s game.

SIMPSONVILLE – The Fort Mill Yellow Jackets softball team used the long ball to get a 7-1 win over the Hillcrest Rams Wednesday evening to advance to the District I championship.

The Jackets’ Maddie Drerup threw a complete game and Fort Mill used a good mix of talent to keep the Rams guessing most of the night. Offensively, Fort Mill drilled four home runs as they scattered nine hits in the game. 

The Jackets will now have to sweep a doubleheader on the road Friday at Dorman to win the District title and advance to the Upper State championship series next week. The win puts Fort Mill at 15-4 overall on the season. 

“We have been hitting the ball well, we just put it together,” said Fort Mill head coach Chuck Stegall. “We can be explosive.”

The Jackets were led at the plate by Ally Hall, who went 2-3 with two home runs and two RBI. Smashing home runs as well were Sydnie Spears and Emma Tisdale. Drerup went 2-3 as well at the plate.

In the circle, Drerup went seven innings allowing one run on one hit, while walking three and striking out nine.

Fort Mill struck early in the game with the help of a two-run home run from Spears to put them up early in the second inning. The Jackets’ Trista Reid walked with two outs in the top of the inning as it set up Spears’ home run.

Hillcrest got two base runners on in the third, but Drerup was able to shake off a walk and a hit batter to get out of the inning without allowing a run. 

The Jackets led the fourth inning off with a solo home run from Hall to give them a 3-0 lead and Hillcrest starter would face one more batter before she would get replaced. Facing a new pitcher didn’t slow anything down for the Jackets. Fort Mill kept the momentum moving forward as the next three batters would get on for the Jackets with Olivia Poteat and Brynn Bartolini both singling to load the bases. Ava Balsinger would then drive in Spears, who reached on a fielder’s choice and Tisdale would walk to again load the bases. Drerup would walk driving in Poteat to make it 5-0 at that point as Fort Mill put themselves in a comfortable position. 

Drerup continued to cruise defensively and Hall did offensively as she led off the fifth inning like she did the fourth inning with her second home run of the game. 

In the bottom of the fifth, Drerup hit a small bump losing her no-hit bid and shutout on one pitch as Hillcrest scored off a solo home run with two outs ending four and two third innings of no-hit ball by Drerup. The home run didn’t shake Drerup’s confidence as she came back and got the next batter to pop out.

Fort Mill got the run back in the sixth inning as Tisdale launched the Jackets’ fourth home run of the game to put them up 7-1. Drerup finished the game just as strong as she started it striking out all three batters in the seventh inning.

Stegall said to beat Dorman in both games of a doubleheader Friday they need to do what got them to this point.

“We have to play errorless ball and continue to hit the ball like we have been,” Stegall said.

Mac Banks:, @fortprep

The Jackets’ Maddie Drerup readies to throw a pitch against Hillcrest Wednesday during Fort Mill’s road game.