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Gators stun SCA at state softball playoffs

    ALBANY — Bulloch Academy slapped 18 hits and played nearly flawless defense to upset Sherwood Christian Academy in the opening round of the GISA Class AAA softball playoffs on Monday.
    The Lady Gators convincingly swept SCA in the best-of-three series with an 8-3 victory in Game One and a 6-1 win in Game Two.
    Bulloch now advances to Thursday’s second round where the Lady Gators will face top-ranked Tattnall Square Academy in Macon.
    According to head coach Chandler Dennard, the Lady Gators were close to perfection Monday in Albany.
    “On offense, we had several people step up today,” said BA head coach Chandler Dennard. “Ashley Burke and Ashlee Lanier had really big days. Haley Mock’s two-run homer was big as well, giving us the lead and a momentum swing when we needed it. The defense played well in both games. We only made two errors and those came in the first game. Madelyn probably pitched two of her best games of the season. She looked really sharp.”
    In Game One, Bulloch took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning but trailed 2-1 through four.
    Burke doubled to start the fifth inning, went to third on Page Spence’s single and scored on a Kaleigh Sisolak fielder’s choice. Haley Mock blasted a shot over the left-center field fence for a two-run homer and a 4-2 lead.
    Sherwood crept closer with a single run in the sixth but Bulloch scored four in the top of the seventh. In the inning, Burke slashed a triple, Lanier ripped a double, Hannah Dasher had a single, Spence beat out a bunt and Sisolak reached on an error.
    SCA went down in order in the bottom of the inning.
    Burke was 4-for-4 with two triples and a double in the 12-hit barrage. Lanier was 2-for-3 while both Spence and Mock were 2-for-4. Vickery struck out eight of the 27 batters she faced, walking none with a pitch count of 89.
    “Madelyn worked ahead in the count and didn’t play around,” said Dennard. “She mowed them down. On defense, Burke and Lanier made almost back-to-back diving stops in the fourth, throwing runners out from their knees.”
    Vickery was even more dominant in the Game Two win. She faced just 24 batters, throwing only 63 pitches.
    “She just left the defense do its job,” said Dennard, “ and they played great.”
    Bulloch knotted the score at 1-1 in the bottom of the second. The Lady Gators scored three in the fourth and two in the sixth to put the game away.
    Lanier was 2-for-2 and Mock was 2-for-3.
    “We faced their number two pitcher who threw considerably slower,” said Dennard. “The girls couldn’t get their timing down. We had a couple of timely hits and took advantage of some walks to piece it together.”
     Bulloch stays alive in the tournament put now must face Tattnall Square Academy.
    The Lady Trojans (29-3) are the top ranked team in Triple-A, a distinction that they held last year at the beginning of the tournament as well. But, last season, the Gators upset TSA in the second round of the playoffs and advanced to the Final Four.
    ‘It’s a rematch of last year,” said Dennard. “Last year, we were 0-6 against them in a two-year span before we upset them in the playoffs. This year, we are 0-3 against them. They are heavily favored to win the state title.
    First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. in the best-of-three series. The second game will be at 4 p.m., with the ‘if’ game set for 6 p.m.