BROOKLET — Winning a home opener is nice. Doing so at the expense of a rival is even better.
Southeast Bulloch opened its 2012 home softball schedule in style Monday afternoon, downing Screven County by a score of 11-4.
Junior pitcher Taylor Wilkes allowed three runs and scattered three hits in 4 2/3 innings of work and sophomore Sierra Peebles closed things out as the Lady Yellow Jackets notched their second victory in as many games to begin the season.
"It’s always good to come out and get a couple of wins quick," SEB coach Aimee Civalier said. "It wasn’t the prettiest game. We made errors, (Screven) made errors. But that’s why you play these non-region games at the beginning. We just need to get things straightened out."
Errors and miscues led to a big inning for each team, but it was Southeast Bulloch that found enough offense to come through with a win.
Effie Manahan provided the winning margin in the bottom of the fourth as she crushed a two-run home run off of Lady Gamecocks starter Dawn Stewart. The blast increased the Jackets’ lead to 6-1 at the time, but the insurance was needed as Screven rallied late.
Wilkes retired two of the firs three Screven batters in the fifth inning, but issued a walk to Jancy Durrence and was relieved by Peebles. The Jackets’ hard-throwing sophomore surrendered a walk to Hannah Jones and gave up an RBI single to Victoria Winters. With the bases loaded, Peebles uncorked a wild pitch that scored Durrence and Jones followed close behind when Manahan’s throw got past Peebles at the plate.
Peebles escaped the jam by striking out Stewart, then breezed through the final two innings to close out the win.
"We did a good job of not letting things get away from us too bad," said Civalier. "But we still need to do a little better. (Both pitchers) walked a few batters to help Screven out. Then, we have something like a passed ball that doesn’t even reach the backstop and we give up two runs on it. Those are things that need to be fixed."
SEB took an early lead in the bottom of the first inning. With runners on first and second and one out, Mary Grace Manahan grounded to third. Taryn Burns stepped on the bag at third to force out Ciera Clark, but Burns’ throw to first skipped away and allowed Effie Manahan to score.
Screven tried to answer its early deficit, but was turned away by the SEB defense.
With one out in the top of the second, Malorie Boswell hit a sinking line drive to center. Clark made a sliding attempt, but couldn’t come up with the catch. The ball bounced away, allowing Boswell to advance to second. Wilkes recorded the second out of the inning before Victoria Winters blasted a single up the middle.
Looking to redeem herself, Clark corralled the ball and came up firing, nailing Boswell at the plate to end the inning.
"That was a big play early in the game," said Civalier. "Screven is a team that likes to utilize their speed and run a lot. It’s good to have that pressure on our defense and see that we can make the plays."
The Jackets took the lead for good in the third inning thanks to a host of Screven errors. The first two Jackets of the inning were retired, but Effie Manahan’s fly ball to center was dropped to prolong the inning. A walk and a wild pitch advanced runners to second and third, and another Gamecock error on Lindsey Crosby’s grounder to shortstop plated Effie Manahan. Mary Grace Manahan scored when Crosby stole second, and Crosby came across the plate after a dropped third strike to Hutchinson was followed by an errant throw to first.
Southeast Bulloch put the Gamecocks away with five more runs in the bottom of the sixth. The Jackets strung together four hits in the inning, highlighted by a two-run double off the bat of Dallas McClellan.
Tonight, the Jackets are back on the road as they take on Tattnall County at 5:30 p.m.
Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.