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Brantley dooms SEB in extras

Brantley dooms SEB in extras

Brantley dooms SEB in extras

    BROOKLET —Thursday’s do-or-die Region 1-AAA had it all.
    Everything, that is, except a happy ending for the home team.
    Southeast Bulloch rallied from a 2-0 deficit to force extra inning and took a 3-2 lead in the top of the tenth inning, but Chelsea Carlan’s single capped a Brantley County rally in the bottom half of the inning. The Lady Herrons walked off with a 4-3 decision in a 2 hour, 33 minute marathon that brought an end to the Lady Yellow Jackets’ season.
    “That was a great inning,” SEB coach Aimee Civalier said. “We had 10 innings of just absolutely great softball. In the eighth or ninth, I told (Brantley County coach Nehemiah Cummings) that this was fun. It’s just a shame we came up on the wrong end of it.”
    Southeast Bulloch freshman pitcher Blair Chapman made a valiant effort.
    Chapman started both games of Wednesday’s doubleheader and toed the rubber again Thursday. The righty went nine strong innings before giving up singles to Allie Thomas and Summer Lee in the 10th to tie the game.
    “Blair was fantastic,” Civalier said. “She really gutted it out. We couldn’t have asked for more.”
    Kayla Perkins came on in relief, but Carlan slapped her third pitch past a diving Lindsay Crosby to bring in Thomas with the winning run.
    For the first few innings, it didn’t seem as though the Herons would have to endure so much drama to get the win. Loren Mertz smacked a one-out triple in the fourth inning and came home on an Allison Melton single. One inning later, Thomas drew a walk and advanced to second with two outs. SEB center fielder Emma Brit mishandled a fly ball by Carlan, allowing Thomas to come home.
    In the top of the sixth, SEB finally came to life.
    Morgan Joyner was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame and was replaced on the base paths by Jasmine Roberts. Mary Manahan then blasted a Kayla McCloud offering off the wall in left to put runners on second and third. Crosby singled home Roberts, then took off for second on a steal attempt. Mary Beth Gill’s throw sailed wide, plating Lauren Harden — a courtesy runner for Manahan — and tying the game.
    “We fought back yesterday and we did it again today,” Civalier said. “We never stopped battling. You have to be proud of that.”
    Things got even crazier as day turned to night and the teams entered extra innings.
    With the GHSA extra inning rules in effect, the last batted out from the previous inning began the frame at second base, providing for plenty of small ball and scoring opportunities.
    SEB came up short in the eighth, but Brantley got Carlan to third with one out in its half. Mertz hit a line drive to center, but Britt gloved it and came up firing, nailing Carlan by 10 feet at the plate.
    In the top of the tenth, Cierra Clark slammed a single to left, but Storm Williams was thrown out at the plate after trying to score from second. Williams collided with Lee coming around third, but no interference was called.
    Continuing the inning, Sarah Bradley — everyday Jacket right fielder, but a flex player not used to swinging the bat — dug into the batter’s box. Bradley swung through two McCloud offerings before hitting a soft liner that snuck into center and brought Clark home.
    “I thought that would be the game winning run,” Civalier said. “I honestly didn’t see that one coming. I wasn’t sure the lineup would get around to Sarah, but she came up big when she got her chance.”
    Unfortunately for the Jackets, the Herons were just a bit too strong. With the win, Brantley now advances to play Tattnall County in the region semifinals. SEB is done until next August.
    “It was a good game and a good season,” Civalier said. “We battled through a lot. It’s a tough one to take, but we just have to keep our heads up. Our seniors gave us a great effort and we’ll miss them. For everyone else, we’ll come back next season and try to do better.”

    Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.

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