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Jackets, Redskins lose Elite Eight openers

    Southeast Bulloch and Bryan County both got off to rocky starts in their first games at the GHSA Elite Eight state softball tournament in Columbus on Thursday afternoon.
    Faced with some tough draws, SEB was defeated by four-time defending state champion Buford, 8-0, in five innings, and Bryan’s seventh-inning comeback came up just short in a 4-3 setback to top-ranked Gordon Lee.
    Although the score was a bit lopsided, Lady Yellow Jacket coach Aimee Civalier was still proud of her team.
    “The truth is that we played the defending champs pretty close for three or four innings,” said Civalier. “They got a couple of big hits and we couldn’t convert on some scoring chances. A couple of bounces here or there and it could have been different.”
    After both pitchers started off strong, the turning point came in the second inning when Lexi Overstreet sent a Sierra Peebles offering sailing for a three-run home run. With the SEB bats struggling, Buford added another three-run shot and tacked on two final runs to force an early end to the contest.
    SEB will face Brantley County at 9 a.m. today in an elimination game.
Gordon Lee 4,
Bryan County 3
    For six innings, Bryan County looked like it had forgotten to show up to the state tournament. In the seventh, it proved why it is one of the most feared squads in the state.
    Trailing, 4-0, and down to their last out, the Lady Redskins rallied to score three runs, but made their final out at third base as they dropped their opening game of the Elite Eight to Gordon Lee.
    “It’s been almost a month since we’ve faced really good competition in a tournament setting,” said Bryan County coach Al Butler. “It took us a couple of innings to snap back into it, but I think we showed what we can do.”
    The Redskins need to show up from the start from now on as one more loss will end their season.
    They face Brookstone at 9 a.m. today for the right to keep advancing in the tournament.
    Bryan County’s backs are against the wall, but the players and coaching staff remain confident.
    “That seventh inning was huge for us,” said Butler. “We didn’t win, but I think we proved to ourselves how good we can be. We’ve got a tough road ahead of us, but I’m positive that we can win and I don’t think that Gordon Lee wants to see us again.”
    Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.