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SEB softball wins big for first place in Region 3-AA
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    BROOKLET—The Southeast Bulloch Lady Yellow Jacket bats exploded as SEB took control of Region 3-AA by shutting out Metter (9-6, 7-2) 9-0 on an overcast evening Thursday.
    Both teams came into the contest with one region loss, so the Jackets (8-4, 5-1) moved into first place with the victory.
    Southeast starting pitcher Megan Barnwell earned a complete-game, three-hit shutout and struck out 11 Lady Tigers on the way to the win.
    The Yellow Jackets got the scoring started early after centerfielder DeAnn Lewis lined the first pitch of the game to left-center field for a stand-up double. Bridgett Devlin (3-for-4, 3B, 2B, 2 RBIs, run scored) crushed a double off of the top of the fence to drive in Lewis and give SEB a 1-0 lead.
    The game really opened up for Southeast Bulloch in the top of the third when Devlin once again found herself up with one out and Lewis on second. This time, Devlin took a 3-2 pitch to the gap in right-center for a RBI triple. Another extra-base hit — a double by third baseman Ashley Clifton — drove Devlin home. The Jackets racked up six hits in the five-run third.
    Southeast coach Aimee Civalier was not surprised by the amount of offensive output by her team in the contest.
    “They were down there in the batting cages (before the game),” said Civalier. “Our hitting coach (Stephen) Hoyle said, ‘They’re hitting the ball really well today, coach. They’re going to put a lot of runs on the board.’ He was right.”
    The Yellow Jacket three-run sixth was highlighted by a two-run, inside-the-park homer by shortstop Ansley Rushing.
    Trailing 6-0, Metter did not get anything going offensively until the top of the sixth. Ashley McLamb led off the inning with a deep shot to left center that resulted in a double. A Lexi Allen single put runners on the corners with nobody out, but Barnwell and the Yellow Jacket defense were able to get out of the frame unscathed.
    Barnwell got Tiger centerfielder Lindsey Marsh to fly out in the infield. The next batter, catcher Amy Nagel, struck out swinging, and SEB catcher Devlin was able to nail Allen when she took too much of a lead off first for a double play.
Despite two fielding errors, Civalier was pleased with the defensive play of her squad.
    “(Barnwell) did a great job pitching and her defense was behind her,” said the Yellow Jacket coach. “I know it says two errors up there on the board, but there (were two double plays), so the defense was behind her, and that was the difference in a shutout and no shutout.”
    With the exception of Allen, Barnwell struck out each Tiger hitter at least once, and continues to lead the region in strikeouts.
    Southeast Bulloch now stands alone atop the region, but the Tigers and the Screven County Lady Gamecocks — each with two region losses — are not far behind.
    Metter coach Don Mims knows his team has some things to work on.
    “(Barnwell) is the best pitcher we’ve seen,” said Mims. “Coming in, you’ve just got to do the best you can.”
    SEB returns to the diamond when it hits the road for a region matchup against Westside Saturday at noon, and Meter will host Laney Tuesday at 5 p.m.
    Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9404.