BROOKLET — Southeast Bulloch had its season opener crashed by an old rival as Screven County ran away with a 7-5 victory on Monday afternoon.
The former region rivals engaged in a pitching duel early on, but Rebekah Woods crushed a three-run home run deep to left center in the third inning to give Screven an early lead and the pitching duo of Taryn Burns and Kara Canetto withstood late rallies to carry the Lady Gamecocks (1-0) the rest of the way.
Burns worked 4.2 innings to earn the win, striking out five Lady Yellow Jackets and allowing just three earned runs.
Canetto closed the door as SEB (0-1) threatened in the fifth inning. She needed just four pitches to get through the sixth frame and worked around a base runner in the seventh, striking out Faith Chase to end the game and earn the save.
“Playing Southeast Bulloch is always a challenge,” Screven coach Billy Pollack said. “We always seem to play each other tough and I was glad to see that our girls were up to the task.”
Screven put the pressure on early as Canetto drew a walk to lead off the game and worked her way around the base paths, ultimately scoring on a single by Woods.
Southeast Bulloch starter Madison Fields shook off the first inning damage, but a walk to begin the third started a big inning for Screven.
After Allie Bazemore drew a free pass, Canetto doubled to right center to put runners on second and third.
Bazemore was cut down on a play at the plate for the first out of the inning, but Woods took a 1-0 Fields offering just left of the scoreboard to make it a 4-0 Screven advantage.
“I thought we really swung the bats well,” Pollack said. “Getting out to an early lead kind of got us in a rhythm. From there, some of our older girls set the tone and everyone played a solid game.”
Screven tacked on another run to make it 5-0 in the fourth, but the Jackets responded in their half.
Chase dropped an RBI single into shallow left field and – with the bases loaded – Lauren Haiden slapped ground ball which resulted in a throwing error and two SEB runs.
But the Jackets couldn’t capitalize as a pair of their own errors in the top of the fifth inning led to two more Screven runs and a 7-3 Gamecock advantage.
“There were times where we played well today,” SEB coach Aimee Civalier said. “But when you see the walks and errors we gave up, you’re going to have a tough time finding wins.”
Storm Williams reached on an infield hit to begin the fifth, stole second, and advanced home on a pair of wild pitches. Haiden added an RBI single, but Canetto came on to pitch from her starting position at shortstop and stopped the Screven bleeding.
Both teams now continue their busy opening week of play.
Screven County takes the field tomorrow on the second leg of a four-game road trip at South Effingham before continuing to Jenkins County on Wednesday and Jefferson County on Thursday.
The Jackets take on Appling County Wednesday and will then spend the weekend at a tournament hosted by Tattnall County.
Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.