BROOKLET — An impressive regular season proved that Southeast Bulloch deserved to be among the 32 teams competing for the GHSA Class-AA title, the journey through the state playoffs begins today.
The Lady Yellow Jackets (18-6-2) have the home-field advantage as the No. 2 seed out of Region 3-AA and host Region 4-AA No. 3 seed Monticello (16-12-1) in a first round matchup set to begin today at 2 p.m.
The teams will play a doubleheader today and —if necessary — SEB will host a decisive third game Thursday afternoon.
For the Jackets, this is a chance to prove to everyone else what they have believed since the beginning of the season.
“This is what we’ve worked for,” said SEB coach Aimee Civalier. “We’re still a young team, but I think we’ve shown ourselves that we can compete with everyone.”
Southeast Bulloch proved how dominant it could be throughout the regular season. Competing in Region 3-AA — arguably to the toughest in south Georgia — the Jackets dropped just one sub-region game all season and only a pair of close losses to Bleckley County prevented an SEB region championship.
Though only a freshman, Sierra Peebles is leading the way for the Jackets.
The hard-throwing right-hander was eased into varsity play early in the season, but has quickly proven herself as the ace of the staff. Peebles pitched back-to-back complete games in both the region semifinal and final doubleheaders, racking up a total of 37 strikeouts in those four games.
Sophomore Taylor Wilkes is also a weapon for SEB on the mound, offering the Jackets an edge in depth during the do-or-die games in the playoffs.
“It’s definitely a huge advantage,” said Civaleir. “When you have good pitching like that, you always feel confident. It also helps that our girls are pitch-first. It helps them to focus on everything a little better.”
Offensively, SEB will continue to rely on the little things it has done so well all season to continue its run through the playoffs.
Armed with a couple of big bats in the middle of the order and great speed throughout the lineup, the Jackets will try to get some base runners, then pressure their opponent.
“We think that we have a good advantage in our team speed,” said Civalier. “We can play small ball, move runners over, and maybe force some mistakes and create some runs.”
Peebles will take the mound in the first game against Monticello. The Hurricanes don’t have a gaudy record and – because of playing in a different region – SEB isn’t very familiar with them, but the Jackets are prepared for a tough battle.
“Any time a team makes it this far, you know that it can win some games,” said Civalier. “Monticello was able to play above .500 in a tough region with teams like Pike County. That tells me that they’ll be ready for anything, but we plan to be ready for them as well.”
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.