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Gators split doubleheader with Brantley County
BA Softball
Bulloch Academy senior Baylee Howard fires a strike Monday afternoon in Nahunta, as the Lady Gators took on Brantley County in the first game of a non-region doubleheader. - photo by JOSH AUBREY/staff

The Bulloch Academy Gator softball team wrapped up the region championship last week, but proved Monday afternoon they weren’t content to just ride out the rest of the season, as they knocked off previously 16-3 Brantley County 7-0 behind the red hot pitching of Baylee Howard who struck out 12 Heron batters in throwing a three hit shutout.

“We came out in the first game and we were motivated, and played well,” said Bulloch Academy coach Kyle Chambers. “Baylee was throwing as well as I’ve seen. With 12 strikeouts you really only to have to make nine plays in a game it eases your defense up a good bit.”

The Gators provided Howard with the only run she would need in the first inning. After back-to back walks to Howard and Leah Williford, Kacie Ricketts roped a single to center. Pinch runner Sophie Strickland slid into home safely, and the Gators took a 1-0 lead. 

The Gators started to pull away in the fourth, Ricketts led off with a single, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Hartlee Faircloth, followed by back-to -back walks to J.B. Marsh and Sloan Aubrey. 

With the bases loaded Liv Finley beat out an infield single to score Ricketts for a 2-0 lead. Howard brought Marsh home with a bases loaded walk, and then Leah Willford then brought Aubrey home with a two-run double, Strickland was hung up between second and third on the play, and was tagged out for out number three, but the Gators opened a 5-0 lead. 

“We were patient at the plate, and strung together some timely hits,” Chambers said. “If we continue our approach at the plate like that, we are usually going to be successful.”

The Gators tacked on a couple insurance runs in the seventh inning. Williford led off with her second double of the game, that was followed by an RBI double to left center by Regan Ellis to give the Gators a 6-0 lead. Kacie Ricketts then capped off a three hit game with her second double for the final of 7-0.

In game two the Heron bats heated up. Lindy Lowther hit a two run homer to right to give Brantley a 2-0 lead in the first. The Gators rallied back for a pair of runs in the top of the second. Sloan Aubrey led off with a single to center, she advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Allie Beth Presley. Liv Finley then grounded to short, who threw to third, but Aubrey slid into the glove knocking the ball out and was safe. The Gators then got RBI singles from Williford, and Regan Ellis to tie the game at 2-2.

The Herons once again came back in the bottom of the inning thanks to the long ball. Home runs by Abby Flowers, Lowther, and Sidney Middleton gave Brantley County a 6-2 lead. Brantley would go on to score 10 unanswered runs in the nite cap and earned a split winning 12-2.

“They went to the final four last year, and are a good hitting team,” Chambers said. “They went in the cages between games, and figured out what they were doing wrong, and really hit the ball well in the second game.

The Gators are now 11-7 overall and 4-0 in region play. Up next the Gators host Pinewood Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.