Screven County and Southeast Bulloch figured that they might meet again — just not under these circumstances.
After both teams suffered defeats over the weekend, the two rivals will clash this afternoon in Sylvania in the consolation series of the Region 3-AA softball tournament.
SEB looked to be on top of its game as it rode an 8-1-1 streak into the postseason and was riding even higher after a sweep of East Laurens in the opening round. But the Lady Yellow Jackets fell flat in the semifinals, dropping a pair of games to Bleckley County by margins of 12-0 and 9-1.
Screven cruised to an undefeated record in region play during the regular season before hitting a speed bump of its own.
By topping their sub-region, the Lady Gamecocks earned a bye through the opening round of the region tournament, but were upset by Dodge County in the semifinals.
Screven and Dodge split the first two games of their series, but the Lady Indians edged out a 3-2 win in eight innings Monday evening to advance to the region championship. Two of the three games in the series went to extra innings and Dodge outscored Screven by just an 11-10 margin over the series.
“It’s definitely not what we wanted,” said Screven coach Billy Pollock. “Dodge matched up very well with us and we didn’t have enough offense when we needed it. Now, we just have to go out and win the next series.”
Both SEB and Screven have already clinched spots in the GHSA state tournament, but will lock horns to decide which team will claim the No. 3 seed out of region 3-AA and which team will take the No. 4 spot.
Regardless of who wins this series, both teams will have to begin their state playoff quests on the road. However, a series win over a rival will avoid the task of facing a No. 1 seed in the state tournament’s opening round and will provide a much needed spark as the teams move forward.
Making things even worse for the Gamecocks is the loss of Lovey Shepperd. The senior second baseman suffered a broken hand in the first game of the series and is lost for the rest of the year.
“It’s a lot of adversity for the girls to deal with,” said Pollock. “Right now, it’s important that our senior leadership comes through. I know that this team can compete, so we want to go out there and get a win and continue on our goal of getting back to Columbus in the state tournament.”
The first game of the series will begin at 4 p.m. with the second game following immediately after. If the teams split, a decisive third game will be held Thursday at 5 p.m. in Brooklet
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.