NORTH AUGUSTA - Fort Mill usually celebrates its softball victories in the scattered, smothered and covered way. But grand victories call for drastic postgame nutritional adjustments.
"I told the girls we were going to go someplace different tonight," said Fort Mill coach Jenny Davis. "I told them we were going someplace that's a little better."
Better at least for a team of high school softball players that beat North Augusta for the second time in four days. Fort Mill's 2-1 comeback victory eliminated North Augusta from the South Carolina High School League playoffs.
"We're going to surprise the team and go to Pizza Joint," said Davis, who played college softball at Augusta State. "They deserve a different treat after the way we played."
Davis and the Blue Jackets can thank Jennifer Luper. Luper again led Fort Mill (15-16) with a dominant pitching effort, allowing only three hits and striking out 10.
Nine of her strikeouts came when North Augusta (21-8) had at least one runner on base.
"Just a great competitor," North Augusta coach Derrick Quinn said. "We knew she was a good pitcher and a great athlete. It showed. I knew it was going to be a low-scoring game. I felt the first team to get to two or three runs would have a big edge."
Luper got her team an upgrade from Waffle House because of her efficient pitching line. The junior has now given up a total of 10 hits and five runs over her past 21 playoff innings.
"I think the pressure tonight really jazzed me up," Luper said. "I started off slow but the tighter the game got, the more of an adrenaline boost I got. I was just grinning from ear-to-ear the whole seventh inning because I love it when the pressure gets really thick."
It was a different feeling for the Lady Jackets of North Augusta, as Luper fanned their last two batters of the season.
"This just hurts," North Augusta captain Katie Anderson said. "This team has too many good ballplayers to be out of the playoffs this early. I guess we weren't disciplined enough to pull it out against a real tough pitcher."
North Augusta was aggressive on the bases. The home team stole seven bases in an effort to generate some offense after Luper held them to three hits on Friday.
"We tried small ball to get girls over but couldn't get the one hit we needed it," Quinn said.
- The hearts cracked open a little wider for North Augusta fans in the baseball nightcap at Riverview Park.
Easley' Arturo Mogrezutt pulled a three-run home run to right field to break a 2-2 tie and finished up his game-winning effort on the mound in the bottom on the ninth for a 5-2 victory over the Yellow Jackets (20-6).
"It was a high fastball and I was waiting on it the whole time," Mogrezutt said. "I was waiting on an inside pitch and their guy threw it high and inside so I could turn on it. It was a sweet hit. The biggest bomb of my baseball career so far."
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