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SEB Softball hosts Rockmart in state quarterfinals
SEB softball
Southeast Bulloch junior pitcher Alana Barnard has thrown 35 innings in the state playoffs in less than a week in helping the Yellow Jackets to the State Class-AAA Elite 8. The Jackets host Rockmart Tuesday. - photo by JOSH AUBREY/staff

The Southeast Bulloch Yellow Jacket softball team has once again advanced to the Class AAA Elite 8. Advancing to the state quarterfinals in the past meant heading over to Columbus for a round robin, double elimination tournament. This year only the Final Four will be in Columbus, while the Jackets will host the Elite 8 matchup with Rockmart Tuesday in Brooklet.

“I think it’s a great thing that we get to host the quarterfinals,” said Southeast Bulloch coach Aimee Civalier. “This has never happened before, so it’s a great opportunity. If we make it through it’s the Final four in Columbus which wouldn’t be as taxing to get through.”

The Jackets defeated Jackson in the opening round, winning the third and decisive game 3-1. Southeast Bulloch then turned around and beat Appling County in round two, winning 1-0 in the opener and 5-4 in the nitecap to sweep away the Lady Pirates.

“We have played five games in less than a week,” said Civalier.” We have pitched Alana Barnard in all five of those games, and that means she has thrown 35 innings. She has done a remarkable job, and I think that will help her as we continue our run. We also have gotten key hits when we have needed to, which has also been crucial.”

The Jackets won many games last year by the run rule. This year has been a little different story. The Jackets did not play the Savannah area teams that they usually beat handily. This year Southeast had to pick up some tough non-region games to fill out their schedule, but Civalier feels that has benefited the team.

“I was upset at the end of the season that we lost so many close games,” said Civalier. “When I look back it though, every single team that we lost to, except for Tattnall County, are all in their respective quarterfinals. That tells me we have played some tough competition, and now we have won some close games which is good as well.”

Tuesday the Jackets face another battle-tested team as they host Rockmart. The opposing Yellow Jackets come in with a record of 24-8 and play in the tough Region-6 from north Georgia. The Jackets were 12-4 in the region, and earned the third seed with Coahulla Creek taking the top spot. Rockmart advanced to the Elite 8 after sweeping Lumpkin County in the opening round, and then beating Sandy Creek two out of three games in round two.

“They are a good program who had no problem moving up from Class-AA to Class-AAA,” said Civalier. “They play in one of the toughest regions in the state, and just beat Sandy Creek, who is a good team. They have a pitcher very similar to the one we faced last week against Appling County. They graduated a lot of their best players from a year ago, so we may have an edge in experience, but they have made it this far so we know they are still talented.”

The Yellow Jackets of Southeast Bulloch and the Yellow Jackets from Rockmart will square off Tuesday at 4:30 and 6:30. The “if” game would be played Wednesday at 2 p.m., also in Brooket.