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SEB softball downs Swainsboro
Barnwell fans 14 Tigers
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    BROOKLET — The rain clouds threatened from the opening pitch to the final out, but despite a slight drizzle throughout the contest, it was business as usual for the Southeast Bulloch Lady Yellow Jackets as Megan Barnwell struck out 14 Lady Tigers and SEB topped Region 3-AA foe Swainsboro 6-1 Tuesday.
    A four-run fourth inning broke a 0-0 tie and gave the Jackets all they needed for the win.
    Swainsboro (9-7, 6-5) helped SEB out to start the fourth when Bridget Devlin and Ashley Clifton both reached on back-to-back fielding errors by Tiger third baseman Brittany Gray. Jamie Bohannon loaded the bases when she attempted to sacrifice the runners to second and third with a bunt and the Tiger attempt to get the lead runner was not in time.
    Ansley Rushing (2-for-2, 2 RBIs, Sac bunt, R) broke the tie when she reached on an infield single and drove in Devlin.
    Clifton scored on a wild pitch to give the Jackets a 2-0 advantage, and SEB got two more across on an Olivia Melvin two-run single.  
    “They’re driving the ball,” said SEB coach Aimee Civalier. “We’ve been working hard out here, and it’s showing.”
    Despite the spitting rain, Barnwell complimented her 14-strikeout performance by allowing only two hits and no earned runs.
    The only SHS run crossed the plate in the top of the fifth. After Tiger pitcher Macy Lawson reached first base on a first-pitch single, she advanced to third on back-to-back wild pitches. Centerfielder Jasmine Faulkner walked to put runners on the corners with nobody out.
    Barnwell responded by striking out the next two batters, but when catcher Erin McIntyre grounded to second, a fielding error allowed her to reach safely and Lawson crossed the plate, cutting the Jacket lead to 4-1.
    Southeast Bulloch scored two more in the bottom of the fifth. Bohannon scored all the way from first when Lauren Crosby launched a fly ball to opposite field and Tiger right-fielder Sybrena Rogers could not hold on.
    The final run was knocked in on an RBI single by Rushing.
    The win was a big one for the first-place Jackets.
    Southeast (15-4, 12-1) will take on Screven County (9-4, 8-2) Tuesday in Brooklet, and with a one-game lead over the Lady Gamecocks in the region, SEB is still in control of home-field advantage for the region tournament.
    With wins against Jefferson County and Westside today and Thursday, Screven could take over first place.
    Having already beaten the Jackets in Sylvania, an SCHS road win against Southeast Bulloch on Tuesday would guarantee the Gamecocks home-field advantage with both teams having two-region losses and the tiebreaker going to Screven.
    “I think (the Screven County game) is huge,” Civalier said. “It’ll be senior night. We’ll focus. We’ll have a good defensive battle, and we’ll be ready. We know they’re going to hit and run. We know they’re going to try to put the ball in play any way they can. We know they’re going to try to steal bases on us, so we’re going to tune up our defense and be ready for them.”
    Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9404.