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Stratford shuts down Bulloch offense

    The Stratford Academy Eaglettes showed superb power and pitching in a 5-1 non-region victory over Bulloch Academy Wednesday at Gator Alley.
    The three-time defending Class AAA state champs rocked Lady Gator starting pitcher Lauren Dennard for nine hits but only four runs through four innings. BA reliever Madelyn Vickery gave up the other run and hit in her three innings of work.
    Leadoff batter Andy Schilling went 3-for-3 with a triple, a double and a single. She was hit by a pitch to get on base a fourth time. Lexie Rouse was 3-for-4. Caroline Avant also had a triple.
    The Eaglettes, coached by former Atlanta Braves’ star Jeff Treadway, pounded the ball with authority during the contest. Some shots sent the BA outfielders scrambling to the outfield fence.
    But the Lady Gator defense was solid on the hot shots that were within their reach. Infielders Ashley Burke, Marianna Peebles and Ashlee Lanier fielded balls cleanly and fired to Ally Cheshire at first.
    In the fifth, they even pulled off a 6-4-3 double play, a rarity in girls’ fast-pitch softball.
After the initial shock of Stratford’s sheer power wore off, outfielders Page Spence, Danielle Atkinson and Mary Margaret Reeves were better able to judge the batters. Catcher Kaleigh Sisolak kept the ball in front of the plate.
Still, BA held SA to single runs in the first, third and seventh innings and two in the fourth.
Bulloch (8-5) was held hitless by Mary Wilson Avant and Rouse. Avant went four innings, giving up one run, striking out three and walking one. Rouse pitched the final three innings, fanning six BA batters and walking one.
After the Eaglettes took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning, the Lady Gators scratched out a run to knot the contest.
In the bottom of the inning, Spence reached first on an error but was forced at second, allowing Ashley Burke to get on base with a fielder’s choice. Peebles’ blast to third was fielded well but Schilling’s throw to first was wide and the ball rolled down the right-field fence. The fleet-footed Burke raced around second and third and crossed the plate just as the ball was thrown home.
That would be the only time the Lady Gators would advance past second base. Schilling buckled down and became a candidate for the Golden Glove award, scooping up grounders and bunts that came near.
Bulloch has two key Region 4-AAA matchups next week. The Lady Gators travel to Bellville to face Pinewood Tuesday and are back home Thursday to battle Brentwood.