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Statesboro High softball claims berth in state playoffs
Statesboro High's Kyler Diaz, right, slides safely into second before the ball gets to Jenkins shortstop Tashiyah David during the third inning on Tuesday, Oct. 11.

Not many regions hold a double-elimination tournament to decide who qualifies for the state playoffs in softball. Tuesday was a good example of why they don’t as they Statesboro Blue Devils had to play three games in less than six hours. The good news is they won two of the three at Mill Creek Park and ensured themselves of advancing to the state playoffs. 

The Blue Devils opened up with a 13-1 victory over Bradwell in their first game which was called due to the run-rule in the fourth inning. The second game saw the Blue Devils square off against top seeded Ware County. Statesboro outhit Ware 12-3 but lost the game 8-5. In the third and final game Statesboro was able to shut out Jenkins 12-0, and although they will still conclude the tournament Thursday the Blue Devils know they are going to the postseason.

“We hit the ball really well in all three games,” said coach Matthew Meeks. “We just had some problems there getting out of the third inning with errors and walks and it really bit us there. We gave ourselves a chance in the Ware game but just dug ourselves a hole. We know we will at least be one of the four teams going to state and we still control our own destiny with a chance to battle out of the loser’s bracket into the championship.”

Maggie Proctor led the way for the Blue Devils in their opener against Bradwell, going 3-3 with six RBIs. Callie Carter went 3-3 as well and Mincey Akins added three RBIs and also allowed only one run on the mound while striking out four in picking up the win.

Statesboro advanced to take on No. 1 seeded Ware County in game two. The two teams went into the bottom of the third tied at 1-1 when the Gators pulled away. With the score 2-1 and two outs the Blue Devils had a couple of opportunities to get out of the inning, but a dropped foul ball and a booted grounder snowballed into six more runs as Ware County took a 7-1 lead. The Blue Devils battled back and had the bases loaded with the tying run at first but struck out to end the game. Akins had three RBI’s and four different Statesboro batters had two or more hits in the game in which Statesboro outhit Ware County 12-3, but also issued 12 walks on the mound.

Falling into the loser’s bracket the Blue Devils dispatched with Jenkins pretty easily scoring eight runs in the first inning and cruising to the 12-0 win in four innings. Statesboro had 11 hits in the game led by Callie Carter who went 3-3 with two RBIs. Claiborne Jones went 2-3 with three RBIs and Kaylee Deal went 2-2.Akins bounced back from a tough outing to allow only three hits and struck out 10 in only four innings of work.

Up next the Blue Devils will be back in action as the region tournament conclude Thursday at Mill Creek Park. Statesboro will play Coffee at 2:00 with the winner advancing to play Ware County at 4:00.

All four Bulloch County softball teams have advanced to the state tournament. The Southeast Bulloch Yellow Jackets have to await the Wayne County vs. Islands game Thursday to see if they are the No. 2 or No. 3 seed. If Wayne wins, they will be No. 2 and if Islands wins, they will be No. 3. They will head to West Laurens regional Tuesday at 1:00.

The Portal Panthers earned the No. 2 seed out of their region and will be heading to Lanier County next Thursday where they will take on Telfair County at 3:30 and 5:30.

The Bulloch Academy Gators just got in the state playoffs as the No. 15 seed in the 16-team field. Bulloch Academy will play at No. 2 seeded Tattnall Square Saturday at 12:00 and 2:00 p.m. in Macon.