The last time the Southeast Bulloch Yellow Jacket baseball team took the field they had just completed a sweep of Windsor Forest on March 12. After a rocky start, things looked to be on the rise.
Word started spreading quickly thereafter that spring sports would be delayed for a few weeks due to COVID concerns, and then came the news that the season was cancelled.
Unlike the college students who were given an extra year of eligibility the Jacket seniors had played in their last game and whatever may have come for the Jackets will forever be unknown.
This youngsters on last year’s team who had made strides in the first month of the season, have now had almost an entire year to improve and according to Jacket head coach Brandon Peterson, took the field with a little more pep in their step this preseason.
“You can definitely tell there is a little more excitement to getting this year’s season underway,” said Peterson. “They found out what it is like to miss out on some things they may have taken for granted, and they are ready to go play.”
“We have always been fortunate enough here at Southeast Bulloch to have some good kids who don’t mind working hard,” said Peterson. “But I will say there has been a little more of a spark to the way they attack drills and practice.”
The Southeast Bulloch players have seen firsthand what COVID can do to a season, and how it affected other sports. The football team had to find replacements for all the Savannah schools, and still had a couple games cancelled. The basketball team played only about half the games they were scheduled to play, and had their season halted on more than a few occasions.
“We have talked about controlling what you can control,” said Peterson. “We have already had one Savannah school decide to not play baseball this year, and we know there’s a good chance other schools could follow. We will try and do our best to make up cancelled games and I feel in the area we are in that won’t be too difficult.”
Southeast Bulloch lost three key senior starters from a year ago in Ethan Shannon, Peyton Carr and Tucker Czech. The good news is all six of the other starters return, and the Jackets have plenty of depth.
“We had a lot of first year players that really showed a lot of improvement before we had to shut things down,” said Peterson. “We aren’t great in just one area, but we have a solid team that can do a lot of things well.”
“Our pitching staff is made up of a lot of our position players, but Logan Herring and Terry Turner really showed some promise last year,” said Peterson. “Tyson Harnage, Jacob Gay and Riley Emrich would have gotten a lot more playing time last year but have really showed improvement in the off season.”
The Jackets not only play in an unpredictable region, they play in one of the weakest regions for all sports except basketball. With that in mind Peterson has beefed up his non-region schedule in order to have his team best prepared for the postseason.
“We have always tried to play tough non region teams, but I believe we have one of our toughest this season,” said Peterson. “We are lucky that there are so many top caliber baseball teams around us. We play Statesboro twice; we play Benedictine and Pierce County twice. We are playing Screven County and ECI as well as Calvary and a couple other strong private schools as well.”
The Jackets are scheduled to open the season Monday at 6:00 at Mill Creek Park against Statesboro High.