Hardly ever is a two hour delay worth waiting out for a high school softball game, but Wednesday’s matchup between Southeast Bulloch and Jenkins was a exception.
Heavy rains in Brooklet turned the infield from dirt to sloppy red mud, but both coaches elected to throw sand over the muck and wait out the drying process. For those who waited for the 7:03 p.m. first pitch and stayed until the second inning, they got their money’s worth of entertainment.
In what was a 4-2 game in favor of the Yellow Jackets, SEB saw runners on the corners with McKenzie Glisson at bat looking to drive up the score higher on possibly the best pitcher SEB will face in their region: Jenkins’ Jessie Barre. In a region where pitchers have trouble merely throwing a pitch that makes it to home plate, Barre is a rarity for SEB to face.
But Barre put a 1-2 pitch in the dirt, prompting Mackinley Fields to take off from third base in hopes to capitalize on catcher Haley Harold fumbling for a ball covered in red mud. But Harold recovered in time and forced Fields into a pickle, ending in a chase down to third by Barre.
As Barre ran Fields down from behind she would take both hands and apply a forceful shove to Fields’ backside for the tag. While the initial action of the shove didn’t seem malicious, Fields collapsed with a thud hard enough to keep her on the ground reeling in pain. The incident sparked outrage from the SEB home crowd and their head coach Aimee Civalier, who exclaimed to the home plate umpire “she needs to be thrown out!”
“The objection wasn’t so much as to get her (Barre) out of her put was to protect my kid,” Civalier said. “When I saw her on the ground like that holding her shoulder, I just felt like it was an unnecessarily hard tag.”
This then boiled over to both sets of bleachers jawing at one another over the intentions of Barre on the tag, climaxing in two men engaging in a middle school contest of “shut up! No, you shut up! No, you shut up!” while protruding their chests in a machismo fashion. Eventually both sides subsided their chatter and after lengthy umpire deliberation in which Fields was helped off the field, Barre was ejected to the objections of her coach.
“What most people don’t understand is that girl right there is a player,” said Jenkins head coach Brittany Cooley. “I don’t think she meant anything by it. In the heat of the moment she tagged the girls and she fell. So that’s what happened.”
Barre’s ejection would ultimately be the deciding factor in the game, as Jenkins had no one else with a legitimate arm on their roster. The Warriors were forced to bring in Bryann Pound from shortstop, who’s pitching prowess resembled that of the Beach’s and Groves’ of the region SEB routinely pounds into 15-0 mercy rule wins.
Indeed, as Barre’s arm left so did any shot of Jenkins keeping the game close. Pound gave up seven hits and ten runs as SEB rolled away with a 16-4 win in less than four innings under the rare lights of a night game. In the 12 years Civalier has been coaching, she hasn’t been apart of something quite this bizarre.
“I guess it all started with the rain,” Civalier said. “The delay was tough and we had been waiting for this game for a while.”
The wheels really came off for Jenkins in the bottom of the third when SEB hung an eight-spot courtesy of six hits and three walks. Emily Barnard and Mallory Hardy would take advantage of some early bases on balls to drive in three runs via single and double respectively. That ran the score 6-2 to 9-2, then Shyla James would add another double later in the inning to make it 12-2.
James would double as the clean up pitcher in relief of Glisson. In the final two and a third innings James would allow just two hits and zero earned runs with two strikeouts. The freshman has started to emerge in a greater role for Civalier’s team and they’ll need it come playoff time when they pitches come a little faster than in region 3-3A.
“She’s definitely a key player for us,” Civalier said. “Her and Glisson go in tandem on the mound. She’s continue to be key for us down the road too.”
SEB improves to 3-0 in their region with another matchup with Jenkins looming in Savannah on Sept. 14, but for now SEB can take solace in grabbing control of their region after a bumpy start to their season.
The Yellow Jackets hope to avoid more rain when they play Johnson this afternoon in the doubleheader starting at 4:30 p.m.