After a year where it failed to reach its postseason home away from home, the Southeast Bulloch softball team is off to a familiar place as a sweep of White County has punched its ticket to Columbus for the state Class AAA Elite-8. The Jackets knocked off the Warriors 2-0 in game one and finished the sweep with a 6-2 win in the nitecap.
The Jackets once again rode the arm of senior pitcher Alana Barnard who allowed only three hits in the first game and came through with 11 strikeouts. Barnard was dominant in the second game as well and got a little offensive help as the Jackets completed the sweep.
“In game one we scored early and then Alana just did the rest,” said SEB coach Aimee Civalier. “We figured they’d make adjustments in the second game, but I really feel like Alana just kept getting stronger. We got her a few runs in the second game and she did a great job, so we are off to Columbus and we are very excited.”
Just as was the case last week the Jackets found themselves in a pitching duel in game one. Barnard was nearly unhittable, but Warrior pitcher Leah O’Kelly was equally sharp as she finished with seven strikeouts and allowed only two hits.
The Jackets started the scoring in the first as Delanie Thames walked, Olivia Horton reached on a bunt and then Thames scored on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Jaidyn Sherrod for a 1-0 lead.
Southeast Bulloch added an insurance run in the third inning. Barnard walked and then came all the way around to score on a bloop to shallow right. Warrior second baseman Karen Jefferies dove for the ball but was unable to come up with it and Barnard hustled home to make it 2-0. That was more than enough as she ended up with 11 strikeouts and the Warriors never really threatened the rest of the game.
Game two saw the Jackets give Barnard some breathing room for a change. Hollee Wise started things off with a two-run single in the first for a 2-0 lead. Olivia Horton added an RBI single to left in the top of the second to make it 3-0. Victoria Barton helped finish things off with a two-run homer to left to extend the lead to 6-0 and they’d go on for the 6-2 victory.
“The only thing I can be a little critical of is we left some runners on base again,” said Civalier. “We played great defense, got great pitching and scored runs when we needed to. We head to Columbus with a little momentum, and we are ready to hit the road and see what we can do.”
The Jackets improve to 19-4 on the season and have now won their last 11 in a row. Up next Southeast Bulloch advances to Columbus for the Elite-8 which begins next week.