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Gator softball participates in GIAA midnight madness
BA softball
Bulloch Academy's Sydney Priest, Pinewood's Milli Anderson and Robert Toombs Academy's Meredith Durden deliver ceremonial first pitches prior to the GIAA midnight madness jamboree Monday in Belleville. - photo by JOSH AUBREY/staff

With temperatures hovering in the low 80’s and a full house on hand, the Bulloch Academy Gators got the 2022 softball season underway Monday morning in Belleville. At 12:10 a.m. to be exact.


The GIAA ushered in their 2022 athletic season by holding midnight madness events throughout the state. Bulloch Academy, Pinewood and Robert Toombs participated in the softball portion of midnight madness with the Gators and Patriots playing the opener. Bulloch Academy and Robert Toombs played each other in the second game, and the Patriots and Crusaders wrapped things up a little after 3:00 a.m. in the fourth and final game.


“We have several different events going on throughout the state as a way of ushering in the new GIAA, which was formerly known as the GISA,” said GIAA Administrative Athletic Coordinator Barbara Conner. “Down in Valdosta we are doing a volleyball jamboree that starts at midnight. We also have some football 7 on 7 scrimmages in the Macon area just as a way of getting excitement about the new GIAA and the upcoming season.”


Pinewood head coach Brett Lewis jumped at the chance to host the jamboree and was pleased with the turnout as well as the cooler temperatures.


“Any time you get a chance like this to promote this sport and promote these young ladies in this venue it’s a great opportunity,” said Lewis. “It’s well after midnight and you see this crowd which is bigger than any crowd we'll get aside from maybe a Final-4 game. The girls were pretty jacked up about playing, I’m not sure how excited their parents were, but to their credit they all showed up.”


Bulloch Academy head coach Nikki Perkins saw plenty of benefits for playing in the jamboree, including getting a chance to see her youthful group in action giving her a better chance at assessing her talent.


“This was a great idea and I’m glad we got to participate,” said Perkins. “The girls were super excited to play and it’s been fun. We only have two upper classmen and we have so many young kids it’s great to see them in a game atmosphere and how they handle things. For some of these girls this is their first time playing in a varsity game and to do it before a great crowd is a unique opportunity.”


Robert Toombs head coach Brian Fitzgerald was happy the Crusaders were involved in the festivities.


“We asked the girls a couple weeks ago what they thought about playing in this and they were so excited,” said Fitzgerald. “To get to see a few different pitchers and evaluate what we have is great, but I think tonight is also about fellowship. These girls have a chance to get to know some of the players on the other teams during something like this and I feel that is so beneficial for them. When you get into the season and it’s more about wins and battling on the field, so in a fun environment they may get a chance to get to know the other teams a little better which I think is great.”


All four games were played with 50-minute time limits. Pinewood beat BA 4-1 in the first game. Robert Toombs shut out the Gators 3-0 in the second game, and Pinewood knocked off RTCA 7-1 in the finale.


Bulloch Academy opens the 2022 season at home August 8 at 4:30 against Piedmont Academy.