BROOKLET — Armed with the home-field advantage, Southeast Bulloch cruised through the first round of the Class-AA state softball playoffs last week. If it wants to move on to the Elite Eight, it will need a similar performance on the road.
Today the No. 2 seed Lady Yellow Jackets (20-6-2) travel to Adel to take on Cook (24-10) which is the Region 1-AA champion and is also coming off of a first round sweep last week.
The Jackets looked sharp in taking down Monticello in the opening round, but now faces a much tougher test.
“Cook is definitely going to challenge us,” said SEB coach Aimee Civalier. “We haven’t seen them in person, but we’ve heard plenty from other coaches that have faced them.
“From what we hear, their pitcher isn’t overpowering, but they’ve shut out some very good teams. She can move the ball well and has several good pitches.”
On the mound for SEB will be a lot more power.
Sierra Peebles struck out 22 batters in pitching both games of the first round sweep. She has proven on multiple occasions that pitching both games of a doubleheader is no problem for her and will likely get the nod in both of today’s games.
Offensively, SEB doesn’t have the big sticks that some teams can boast, but has one of the fastest lineups in the state. The Jackets have done most of their damage this season by way of manufacturing runs and will stick to the same script against Cook.
“We just try to play to our strengths,” said Civalier. “We have some good, aggressive runners at the top and bottom of our lineup. We have some good bats in Effie (Manahan) and Sierra to knock in those runners.”
When that duo gets on base — and hopefully drives in runs — the courtesy runner rules allow the Jackets to replace their pitcher and catcher with another pair of speedsters in Breanna Gates and Jasmine Roberts.
“Even though they aren’t starters, they’re very important to us,” said Civalier. “Brea and Jaz are right behind our leadoff hitter for the most runs scored this year. They can steal bases and put us in good position to push across runs.”
In addition to the long road trip and formidable opponent, the Jackets are also up against a strange schedule. SEB is out on fall break this week, so its players aren’t in their normal routine of going to class and practicing.
“That’s always a concern,” said Civalier. “I’ve told them to get to bed early and treat it as normally as possible. This is Cook’s homecoming week for football, so maybe they’ll have some distractions too.”
Today’s first game will begin at 3 p.m. with the second following 30 minutes after its conclusion. If the teams split, SEB will spend the night and play a decisive third game Thursday at 2 p.m.
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.