BROOKLET — The Southeast Bulloch softball team has spent the last two months battling for a chance to make some noise in the postseason.
Beginning today, they’ll start that journey.
The Lady Yellow Jackets (19-4) host Pierce County (20-6) this afternoon in the semifinals of the Region 1-AAA playoffs. The four teams remaining in the region tournament are all guaranteed a spot in the GHSA state playoffs, but seeding can make all the difference in how far a team progresses and the Jackets have their sights set on a region title and a No. 1 state playoff seed.
The Jackets and Bears will play a best-of-three series for the right to move on to the region championship series.
"This is something we’ve worked hard for all season," said SEB coach Aimee Civalier. "Coming into the year, we knew that we wanted to win our sub-region. I thought that there were about five teams that could win this region, so we were able to take that first step in making it to the final four teams."
When the Jackets began play back in August, things didn’t go nearly as smoothly. SEB dropped three of its first five games, but has been white hot ever since.
The Jackets have gone 17-1 since Aug. 18 and come into today’s games riding an eight game winning streak. The only loss in that impressive run was a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Pierce County in Blackshear back on Sept. 15.
The Bears put a stop to the Jackets’ impressive streak, but that game was just the first of a doubleheader that day. In the second game, the Jackets rolled to a 12-6 win – something that SEB hopes to recreate today.
"I think that those games were a good experience for our team," said Civalier. "Going into that doubleheader, we had won a bunch of games, but hadn’t faced really good hitting or pitching. Pierce has great pitching and I think that got to us in the first game, but I think that we showed that we could contend and win in that second game."
The Jackets enter the postseason as a team full of grizzled veterans. SEB made it to the Elite Eight last season and returns eight starters from last year’s squad.
Now a year older, better, and wiser, the Jackets sense that this is the time to make their move.
"I think that our girls saw what it takes to win big games," said Civalier. "We know what we have to do. Now it’s time to take the field and go do it."
Sophomore ace Sierra Peebles will get the nod in this afternoon’s opener and will likely start the second game as well. Peebles had a solid freshman campaign last season and has only gained steam leading up to this year’s postseason.
Offensively, senior Effie Manahan provides most of the power, but the Jackets’ lineup is filled with experienced players that can make contact and cause problems from top to bottom in the batting order.
A win in the series advances SEB to the region championship and — more importantly — guarantees home field advantage in the first round of the state playoffs.
"We know what we need to do and we’ve seen how important having home field can be," said Civalier. "Pierce is a very good team, but we’re going to go out there and expect to win."
Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.