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The road to state for SEB and Screven
082810 SCREVEN SOFTBALL file 1
Screven County first baseman Sydnee Weaver, right, bumps hands with pitcher Marla Thompson after closing out an inning against Parkview during Battle in the 'Boro at Mill Creek Regional Park in this August 28, 2010 file photo. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

    BROOKLET — If Southeast Bulloch wants to extend its softball season, the Lady Jackets will have to be road warriors.
    This afternoon, SEB travels to Nashville to take on Berrien in the first round of the Georgia High School Association state playoffs.
    The Jackets (17-10-1, 5-3 Region 3-AA) ended the regular season on a high note, but losses to Bleckley County and Screven County in the Region 3-AA tournament dropped SEB to the No. 4 seed and will force it to play each of the first two rounds on the road.
    Region 1-AA champion Berrien (23-5, 9-1) boasts an impressive record, but the Jackets are confident that they can hold their own.
    “We’re definitely going in expecting to win,” said SEB coach Aimee Civalier. “Berrien is a solid team, but they’re coming out of a weaker region. We’ve played some good competition that has prepared us for the challenge of the playoffs.”
    Both teams are similar in that they are comprised of talented, but young players — many of whom will be making their first playoff appearances. SEB will try to repeat its 2008 run to Columbus, home of the Elite Eight, but will have to do so with a squad lacking the senior leadership of two years ago.
    “It’s a little different preparing with a younger team,” said Civalier. “With upperclassmen, you can get on them and press them a little more. This year, I’m telling our girls to relax and just go out there and play their best.”
    Especially young for the Jackets is their pitching rotation, comprised of freshman Taylor Wilkes and sophomore Effie Manahan. To help out the pitching staff, the Jackets will try to put forth a good offensive showing.
    “Berrien has some good pitching,” said Civalier. “But I don’t think that it will be anything better than we’ve seen with Screven or Dodge County. We just have to concentrate on playing well and avoiding mistakes.”
    The matchup will be a best-of-three series and the two teams will play a doubleheader today beginning at 2 p.m. If the teams split the doubleheader, a decisive third game will be held Thursday

Screven takes on Cook
    With its win over SEB in the region consolation round, the Lady Gamecocks (24-8, 9-2) secured the No. 3 seed out of Region 3-AA and will take on Region 1-AA No. 2 seed Cook (17-13, 8-2) in Adel.
    Screven had high hopes for a second consecutive region title, but a loss to Dodge County in the semifinals cut its run short and now sends the Gamecocks on the road for the first round of the playoffs.
    The Gamecocks have struggled swinging the bats in their last few games, and will have to find an offensive groove without the services of junior second baseman Lovey Sheppard — who was lost for the season with a broken hand suffered against Dodge County.
    Cas Austin performed well in her place, and leadoff batter Sydnee Weaver will try to set the table in front of the big bats of Tiffanie Burns, Rochelle Shuman and Lauren Thomas.
    Of course, the Gamecocks’ best weapon is out on the mound.
    Senior ace Marla Thompson has carried Screven to Columbus in each of the last three seasons and has every intention of continuing the trend — and possibly going even farther — this season.
    Similarly, the Lady Hornets have been to the Elite Eight three times in the last five seasons and are looking to keep up their own rich softball tradition.
    Today’s doubleheader begins at 4 p.m. If the teams split, Game 3 will take place Thursday.

    Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.