The Bulloch Academy Gators, and Southeast Bulloch Yellow Jacket softball teams both know they will host state playoff games next week. Tuesday afternoon the two teams got a chance to prepare for their state quests with a game at Gator Alley, and the Yellow Jackets held on for a 2-1 victory.
“We’ve had a few one run losses, but this one I feel a lot better about,” said Bulloch Academy coach Kyle Chambers. “I felt like Southeast Bulloch earned the win here today, we didn’t give it away. They are a good team and playing them will help us get ready for state.”
“Bulloch Academy has a good team, a good pitcher, some good hitters, and they play well defensively, said Southeast Bulloch coach Aimee Civalier. “I told our team this is the kind of team we will be playing in the state, so we had better be ready. I am overall pleased with our performance.”
Southeast Bulloch pitcher Alana Barnard looked sharp in her first game returning from a concussion, as she struck out five of the first six Gator players she faced. Barnard finished the game with eight strikeouts and gave up five hits in the game.
“We just got Alana back and I was wondering how she’d do,” Civalier said. “I am quite pleased by how she looked on the mound. It has been a while, but she seemed to have command of all her pitches, and we will be counting on her next week.”
On the other side of things Baylee Howard looked sharp for the Gators. Howard struck out five and scattered 7 hits and allowed only 2 runs through seven innings of work.
The Gators had an excellent chance to start the scoring in the bottom of the second. Regan Ellis led off with a double, and then advanced to third on a wild pitch. With no outs the Gators failed to bring her home though as Barnard struck out the next three batters.
The Yellow Jackets capitalized on their opportunity in the top of the third. Gracie Burgin led off with a single to left center, she moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Mallory Hardy, and then came in to score on an RBI single to center by Shylah Thames for a 1-0 lead.
Barnard then helped her own cause in the top of the fourth. A fly ball to right fell just out of the grasp of right fielder Liv Finley, and Barnard ended up on third. Leah Vangiller then singled to left giving the Jackets a 2-0 lead.
Bulloch Academy threatened in the seventh. With two outs a single by Allie Beth Pressley was followed by a walk to Sloan Aubrey. Kacie Rickets then drove in Pressley with her second hit of the game, to pull the Gators within one, but Barnard got Abby Newton to pop up to end the game.
“We have a couple more good teams coming in here the next two days,” Chambers said. “Robert Toombs and Briarwood are a couple of the best GISA teams in the state, and we need to see that kind of competition to get us ready for next week and the state tournament.”
Next up for the Gators they host Robert Toombs Wednesday at 4:00, the Yellow Jackets play Islands in a scrimmage game Wednesday. Bulloch Academy opens the state next Tuesday, while Southeast Bulloch opens up next Wednesday.
Statesboro High will travel to South Effingham Wednesday for a best two out of three with the winner earning the No. 1 seed in the state, while the loser will be No. 2. If the two teams split a third and decisive game will be played Thursday.