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BA to play first ever softball home game

    When the Bulloch Academy Lady Gators played a home fast-pitch softball game in  recent years, it was normally at the Statesboro-Bulloch County Parks and Recreation Department’s Memorial Field on Fair Road.
    But, when Bulloch takes the field this afternoon against Pinewood Christian Academy, the Lady Gators will be defending their own turf.
    Over the course of several months, a sparkling new complex was carved out of the woods and swampy area on the school’s campus by parent volunteers and supporters of the school. During the summer, more volunteers donated materials, money and manpower in the effort to make the field a showcase.
    “There’s a certain pride that you have when you play on your own field,” said BA head coach Chandler Dennard. “Home-field advantage is always important and, when we played at Memorial, we felt like we were playing at a neutral site.”
    Kaylee Lanier, who has played with the varsity squad since she was in the eighth grade, has never played a home game at the school.
    “We finally get to represent Bulloch Academy on our own campus,” said the junior shortstop. “I’m really excited. We finally have our own field. It’s going to help bring in more fans and there won’t be as many distractions as there when we were playing at Memorial.”
    A dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony will begin at 3:30 p.m. with the ceremonial first pitch to follow closer to the 4 p.m. game time.
    Today’s milestone would be complete for the Lady Gators if they could defeat their arch rivals, the Lady Patriots. Even though Bulloch and Pinewood are in different classifications, the physical closeness of the institutions make the schools natural rivals.
    “Not only is this going to be our first game on the new field,” said Dennard, “but we’ll be playing our arch rivals. Playing Pinewood only adds to the excitement of the day.”
    Bulloch is coming off a big 11-2 season-opening win over Briarwood last week and a third-place showing in the 12-team Windsor Academy Invitational in Macon this past weekend. The Lady Gators (3-2) are doing well despite the loss of junior first baseman Addie Reddick, who had the ulna in her left forearm broken in a pre-season tournament.
    “It has changed the whole dynamics of our team” said Dennard. “Addie was our second leading hitter for average last season. There’s a certain comfort level with a player who’s been a three-year starter at first base.”
    Sophomore Kate Anna Akins is also sidelined with a wrist injury.
    With no seniors and Reddick on the bench, the normally-quiet Lanier has had to step up and become the example for the underclassmen.
    “We have a good number of returning starters,” said Dennard. “Heaven Hinton (sophomore) carried us this weekend. She only made one error at third and hit the ball real well. Kelcie Jacobs (sophomore) get got back from being out a month. The two Kaylees (Lanier and sophomore Kaylee Dennard) have been doing a good job both offensively and defensively. Sunny Salzman (sophomore) has been doing a whale of a job on the mound.
    “The new kids are coming on and have been doing a good job lately,” said Dennard. “We’ve had to throw some freshmen and eighth graders into the mix. They’ve been doing a good job.”
    Freshmen Rebekah White, Sally Marie Futch and Rachel Gilbert as well as eighth graders Haley Burke, Taylor Collins and Amelia Akins have all seen considerable playing time.

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