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Gators all over Portal in season-opening 12-0 win

    A rainy August has stolen three games from Bulloch County schools, including the opener from Bulloch Academy on Monday.
    Safe to say, not being on the field for a week didn’t bother BA as they rolled up Portal 12-0 in a four inning, mercy-rule decision at Memorial Field on Fair Road. Through that score it should be known the Panthers and the Gators are sitting in two very different situations to start their season.
    BA lost only one senior and brought back nearly all of its production from a year ago, whereas Portal lost six seniors and lost nearly all of their production. This played out on the field as Portal had to start four freshmen in some of the most important defensive positions on the field: shortstop, third base, centerfield and catcher.
    Four errors would cost Portal five of the first nine runs they gave up in three and a third innings, putting a real stain on what would have been a decent outing by pitcher Kolbie Motes threw the first three innings. She allowed seven hits, one walk and struck out four gators as she left the game with BA up 6-0 after facing 20 hitters.
    “It’s going to take time,” said Portal head coach Travis Motes in regards to his team’s youth. “Give credit to BA, they really know how to hit the ball. We just need more experience and you can only do so much in practice.”
    Opposite her was Baylee Howard, who was thrown into the fire last season and a freshman helped keep BA afloat to end the season hosting a playoff game. Against a Portal lineup sporting a total of 90 returning plate appearances (70 of them Motes’) she was perfect in four innings of work by striking out seven of the 12 batters she faced and seeing only one base runner allowed via error which which was erased via double play.
    “She’s really improved since last year,” said BA head coach Kyle Chambers. “There wasn’t a lot of swing and miss action with her last season but the velocity has really improved over the offseason.” 
    BA hopped on Portal early by seeing their first two batters reach base safely and advance to second and third with one out. Cleanup hitter Regan Ellis then drove both in with a line-drive double to centerfield and would later score on an error in the outfield following a single by Leah Williford to give BA a 3-0 lead.
    Even as the bases would eventually load up, Motes would force a pair of ground balls to get out of the inning with no further damage. She’d start the next inning strong by setting down the first two BA hitters of the second in seven pitches, but a walk and another big hit from Ellis would run the score up 5-0.
    Two more singles from Kasey Ricketts and Janna Beth Marsh combined with an error in the third would score two more runs to put BA up 6-0, but it wasn’t until Motes came out of the game where things got out of hand for Portal on the mound. To freshman Madison Cook’s credit she did register two outs but three hits, three walks and two wild pitches would put BA over the top for the early finish.
    “We spent a week straight in the cages, so clearly that’s paid off for us,” Chambers said. “Hopefully we can be back on our own field to practice tomorrow.”
    The two transfers for BA would come up big Thursday afternoon at the plate: Williford and Ricketts would each grab two hits and score a run with Ricketts picking up an RBI as well. But it was Ellis would come up the best, driving in three runs with her 2-3 afternoon. Saylor Callaway would also come through with two hits.
    BA (1-0) will get the weekend to rest before the head to Robert Toombs on Monday at 4:30 p.m. As for Portal (0-2), they’ll play Tuesday on the road at Liberty County at 5 p.m.