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Effingham puts end to Bulloch Softball's hot streak
BA Softball
Effingham pinch runner Sarah Steven is able to kick the ball loose from Bulloch Academy catcher Claiborne Jones as she slides in safely in the third inning of the Gators' matchup with the Rebels Monday afternoon. - photo by JOSH AUBREY/staff

The Bulloch Academy softball team rolled into Monday’s matchup with Effingham County sporting a 9-1-1 record and were 4-0 in region play. Monday the Gators got a bit of a wake-up call as the Rebels shut the Gators down and won 11-0 in six innings.

“One of the reasons we reached out to Effingham County was we wanted a test, and I’d say we got one today,” said Bulloch Academy coach Nikki Perkins. “We have a couple big games this week and it was important to see a team like this as they can expose your weaknesses.”

The Gator bats — which had been red hot — were silenced by the Rebel pitching duo of Julia Carter and Rylee Mills. Carter and Mills allowed only one hit, and struck out six Gator batters.

“This is the kind of pitching we will face from the best teams in our region, and hopefully if we go to the state tournament. We have seen some pretty weak pitching lately, and to see this shows us what we need to work on to get better.”

The Gators not only struggled to hit, but had some issues in the field as well. The Rebels hit the ball well scoring six runs in the second inning, and really pulling away with three more runs in the third.

The Gators had an opportunity to avoid a shutout in the fifth inning. With runners on second and this and one out Perkins elected to bunt with Leah Williford. Williford laid down a nice bunt, but Rebel catcher Addie Reynolds ford to first for the force, and then first baseman Julia Carter fired the ball back to Reynolds who tagged Claiborne Jones at home.

“This was a learning experience for us,” Perkins said. “We needed to see where we are, and what we need to work on. We have games at Pinewood and Robert Toombs the next two days, and we need to work on what we struggled with today.”

The GISA is going with a Power Poll in order to determine who the top eight teams are at the end of the season. Those eight teams will be the only ones advancing to the state tournament. Currently the Gators are ranked fourth in the state, but there are three teams in their region that are currently in the top eight.

Two-time defending state champion Westfield is first, and here is a complete list of the top eight:

1. Westfield

2. Tiftarea

3. John Milledge

4. Bulloch Academy

5. Trinity Christian

6. Southland Academy

7. Pinewood

8. Brookwood

“The way things are set up this year we have to do all we can to stay in the top eight,” Perkins said. “We would like to remain in the top four, as that means we would get a home playoff game. We control our own destiny, and hopefully we can stay on top in our region.”

The Gators travel to Pinewood Tuesday, and will be at Robert Toombs on Thursday.