The Portal Panther softball team knew the stakes at this week’s region tournament. Winning the best two out of three series at Wheeler County would secure the Panthers of a state playoff bid, a win at all might have got them in, and a sweep may end the season. Unfortunately the Panthers were swept, putting their postseason hopes in jeopardy, as they lost game one 3-2, and then lost game two 6-0.
Portal hung in during the first game, thanks in large part to the pitching of Riley Lamb. The freshman went the full six innings, and struck out 13 batters, but it wasn’t enough. Jaycee Sanchez led the way for the Panthers offensively with two hits and an RBI. Kolbie Motes, and Austin Woods each had hits as well.
In the nitecap the Panthers were unable to get to Wheeler County pitcher Alli Hartley, who threw a complete game shutout with six strikeouts. Emily Conner, and Amy Dalton each had a pair of RBI’s.
Portal is currently 13-9 and will have to wait until Saturday to find out whether they made the state playoffs or not. Class-A public and private schools go by the Power Poll Index. The top 24 teams get in, and Portal was on the bubble at around 21 entering the playoffs with Wheeler County.
Bulloch Academy 3, Trinity 4
The Bulloch Academy Gators were playing without the services of starting pitcher Baylee Howard, who was resting a sore shoulder. Sophomore Kacie Ricketts took the mound in her place, and played quite well after a rocky start. The Gators bats came to life in the seventh, but it was too little too late as they fell 4-3 to Trinity, in Dublin.
Ricketts came in with only a couple innings of work under her belt on the high school level, and allowed only 4 balls to reach the outfield. In the first inning a couple walks, a pair of errors, and an RBI single to right by Emleigh Collier provide the only runs the Crusaders would score the entire game, as they took a 4-0 lead.
“We know we are going to need Kacie for the playoffs,” said Bulloch Academy coach Kyle Chambers. “I think they only had two hard hit balls off of her the entire game. We made a couple of costly errors in the first, but played pretty solid from there on. We adjusted to the pitching a little too late, there are some things we picked up on that we really need to work on.”
Ricketts manufactured herself a run in the fourth. After reaching on an error Ricketts stole second base, she proceeded to steal third, and then scored as the ball was thrown into left field, cutting the lead to 4-1.
The game would remain 4-1 until the top of the seventh. J.B. Marsh reached on a hot shot to second, Sloan Aubrey then came a few feet from a home run to deep center, but settled for a double, putting runners on second and third. Pinch hitter Baylee Howrd then brough Marsh in with a single to left.
Liv Finley then hit a hard shot to third, she’d beat the throw to first, and Aubrey scored to cut the lead to 4-3. Abby Newton then reached on a sacrifice bunt, fielder's choice at third, loading the bases with no out. Unfortunately the Gators were not able to get a run home and fell 4-3.
“Despite the loss, there are a lot of good things to take away from this game,” Chambers said. “We didn’t quit, we fought till the end, and Kacie showed a lot of progress on the mound. We have a few weeks before the state tournament begins, and a lot of things to work on between now and then.”
Next up for Bulloch Academy, the Gators wrap up the regular season at home against Robert Toombs October 10th at 4:00 for senior night.
The Southeast Bulloch Yellow Jackets, and Statesboro Blue Devils will each be hosting their region championships Wednesday afternoon.
The Yellow Jackets will be hosting Islands in a doubleheader beginning Wednesday at 4:00, with game two at approximately 6:00. The winner will be region champions and earn the number one seed in the state tournament next week.
The Blue Devils have the exact same scenario as they host Ware County Wednesday at 4:00. Game two would start 30 minutes after the conclusion of game one. If a third and decisive game is necessary it would be played on Thursday.