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Jackets split with Red Devils in opening round of state
Southeast Bulloch softball
Southeast Bulloch senior Makinley Fields is greeted at home by teammate Megan Lee after hitting her first home run of the season, and helping the Jackets earn a split in the first round of the state Class-AAA playoffs. - photo by JOSH AUBREY/staff

Coaches say hitting is contagious, and errors can be too. Tuesday afternoon the Southeast Bulloch Yellow allowed errors and miscues cost them in a 2-1 setback in the opening round of the State Class-AAA softball tournament to Jackson. Thankfully the hitting got contagious in game two as Makinley Fields, Lauren Erickosn and Meagn Lee all hit home runs, and Alana Barnard pitched solid in both games to propel the Jackets to a 7-2 victory. A third and decisive game three will take place Wednesday afternoon.

In game one two unearned runs spoiled a great pitching performance by Barnard. The Jackets could only muster three hits in the game, and stranded 6 runners on base, including four in scoring position.

“I felt we came out really tight in the first game,” said Southeast Bulloch Coach Aimee Civalier. “We made a couple errors, and then started pressing at the plate. We don’t play well when we are that tight.”

The Jackets were bounced from the state tournament by a No. 4 seed three years ago, and were hoping to avoid the same against a very solid Jackson Red Devil team. Senior Makinley Fields gave the Jackets what they were searching for in the top of the second. Fields crushed a Mackenzie North pitch deep to left for her first home run of the season.

“I really feel like Makinley lit our fuse,” said Civalier. “We were so tight, and then when she hit that home run, you could see our girls just started to relax and have some fun.”

Olivia Horton followed that with an RBI single to make the score 2-0, and was followed by Lauren Erickson depositing her first ever home run to straight away center field for a 4-0 Jacket lead.

“Watching her hit in the cages I know Lauren had the power to hit one out,” said Civalier. “I was a little surprised because she has been struggling at the plate lately. After that home run, her next couple at bats were good as well.”

With the Jackets up 5-0 the Red Devils came back to cut the lead to 5-2 in the fifth. The Jackets added another run as Shylah Thames doubled, and then scored after back-to-back wild pitches. Megan Lee then put the exclamation point on the victory with a monster shot to center field.

“Megan got banged up in the first game, and we had to put in Makinley Fields,” said Civalier. “I knew we needed her bat in the lineup in the second game, and she really came through with a couple big hits, and then her home run iced things.”

Barnard ended up throwing 14 innings on the mound, and all four runs she allowed were unearned. She allowed six hits, and struck out 11.

Next up the Jackets and the Red Devils concluded their best of three series with the deciding game three Wednesday afternoon at 4:00 in Brooklet.