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SEB Softball comes up just short
SEB Softball
Rockmart's Analee Morris, left, slides into home for a score behind Southeast Bulloch catcher Makinley Fields during the final quarterfinal game on Wednesday, Oct. 28. Rockmart defeated SEB 5-2 to advance to the state Final Four and end the Lady Jackets' season.

The Southeast Bulloch Yellow Jackets went from scoring their most runs in a game in the state playoffs, to having arguably their two worst offensive games, and would fall two games to one in the state Class-AAA Elite 8 to Rockmart. Southeast Bulloch took game one 8-3, and then fell in game two 2-1. Wednesday afternoon Rockmart ended their season with a 5-2 victory in the third and decisive game.

From the second inning of game two through the fifth inning of game three the Jackets went 11 innings without scoring a run, despite having numerous opportunities, which head coach Amy Civalier felt was the key to the visitors winning the series.

“First off we have to credit Rockmart’s pitcher and the way they played defense,” said Civalier. “The ball didn’t bounce our way after the first game. We had bases loaded a few times and couldn’t score a run, and that really came back to hurt us. We just couldn’t come up with the clutch hits when we needed it.”

The Jackets had a tough call go against them early in the game. With no score in the bottom of the third and runners on first and second left fielder Kelsey McDuffie laid down a perfect bunt, and beat the throw to first. The first base ump then came running up, and after a huddle among the three officials it was ruled when she dropped her bat the bat made contact with the ball, and she was called out. The Jackets were unable to score as a strikeout ended the inning.

Rockmart quickly broke into the scoring column in the top of the fourth as Megan Johnson sent a deep fly ball over the centerfield fence for the first home run of the series, and a 1-0 Rockmart lead.

The Yellow Jackets had a chance to answer in the bottom of the inning, with a runner on first Makinley Fields sent a tailing line drive to right center, but Rockmart center fielder Alexis Teems made a great diving grab to save a potential run.

The visitors put things away in the top of the fifth. A single and a couple miscues on Rockmart bunts would load he bases. A sacrifice fly by Sam Wolfe would bring home one run. Pitcher Emilee Register then hit a deep shot to center that cleared the bases for a 4-0 lead. 

Rockmart added a run in the sixth. Southeast Bulloch countered with two runs in the bottom of the sixth, but left the bases loaded to end the inning, and would not threaten in the seventh.

“We had a great season, but we need to find a way to keep our composure better when things don’t go our way,” said Civalier. “We have got to be able to bounce back, and battle through adversity.”

The Jackets took game one Tuesday 8-3 on the strength of two hits and two RBI’s from Makinley Fields and Alana Barnard, and two RBI’s from Megan Lee. Barnard also allowed no earned runs, and struck out six in going the distance on the mound.

Barnard was equally effective in game two, but the Southeast Bulloch bats went silent after scoring a run in the first. Southeast Bulloch left the bases loaded in the first, and had three other chances with runners in scoring position where the failed to bring them home. 

Rockmart made the most of their chances as they tied the game on a fielder’s choice, and then scored what proved to be the winning run on an RBI single to right by Wolfe. Register was solid on the mound as she allowed only five hits, and struck out seven.

Southeast Bulloch will lose three key seniors from this year’s team but return everyone else, and will get All-State catcher Delanie Thames back after she missed the whole season with shoulder surgery. Megan Lee, Shylah Thames and Makinley Fields all had home runs in the state playoffs this season.

“We are really going to miss those three seniors,” said Civalier. “They have been so important to this program, and helping us to back-to-back Elite 8 appearances. We are excited about getting Delanie back and the future of the program.”