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Statesboro, Ware have winner-take-all for title after Wednesday split
SHS Softball
Ware County's Emma Millwood, bottom, stretches out and beats the throw to Statesboro High catcher Addison Helton to extend the Gators lead in the third inning of the second game of Wednesday's double header playoff game. After splitting games, the two teams will vie for the Region championship today.

The Statesboro Blue Devil softball team will have to wait at least another day in order to win their first ever region title as it split a pair of games Wednesday at Mill Creek Park against Ware County. The Blue Devils took game one 3-1, but lost the nitecap 6-1 to the Gators.

“Once we won game one, I told the girls, we can’t lose the region championship today,” said Statesboro coach Jim Simmons. “I thought we performed well in game one. We played defense well, pitched well, and put some quality at bats at the plate. Game two, we did not respond well when things went bad.”

Brinson Anne Rogers helped the Blue Devils on the mound and at the plate in game one. Rogers scattered seven Gator hits, while striking out nine and allowing only one run, while recording an RBI for herself.

The Devils started the scoring in the second. After singles by Tanner Kaiser and Bailee Roberts, Rogers singled to center, plating Kaiser for a 1-0 lead. Terrika Gibson then came in to run for Rogers, and manufactured the next run herself. Gibson stole second, took third on a wild pitch, and then scored on a wild pitch for a 2-0 lead.

The Blue Devils added a third run on a wild play in the fifth. Roberts sent a long fly to left center. Dyonce McClain had the ball for a moment, but hit the fence and dropped it over the other side, giving Roberts a home run and the Blue Devils a 3-0 lead.

Ware County put the ball in play more than most teams do against Rogers. The Gators left runners in scoring position in every inning but the fourth. They finally scratched through for a run in the sixth, but it was far too little, too late as Rogers sat the final two Gator batters down via strikeout preserving the 3-1 victory.

“Both teams left a lot of runs on base in the first game,” Simmons said. “We played well in the field, and were able to get out to an early lead which was big for us.”

Simmons opted to go with pitcher Kinlee Carter in game two. Carter pitched well, but a few Blue Devil errors, a couple walks, and a lack of offensive production did them in in game two.

“We feel like to get where we want to go, we are going to need to throw two pitchers,” Simmons said. “I thought Kinlee did a great job today. If we play a little better defense I think that would have taken away a few runs. You have to tip your cap to Ware County. They put more quality balls in play than we did.”

Statesboro took a 1-0 lead in game two. Bailee Roberts doubled to center, and then Avery Wiggings sent a single to right, plating Roberts for a 1-0 Blue Devil lead.

The trouble began in the second, as an error was followed by an RBI single from McClain to tie the game.

The Gators erupted for four more runs in the bottom of the third. An error, a walk, and a fielder's choice gave Ware County a 2-1 lead. Lauren Smallwood drove a two-run double to left with the bases loaded for a 4-1 lead and an RBI single to center by McClain capped the scoring to make it 5-1.

McClain added another RBI single in the sixth for the final run of the game and a 6-1 Gator victory.

The teams will play the third and decisive game today at 5 p.m. at Mill Creek. Rogers is expected to take the mound to go for the region title.

4 in a row for SEB

The Southeast Bulloch Yellow Jackets made it a four-peat Wednesday night, as they won their fourth straight region championship sweeping the visiting Islands Sharks 11-0, and 5-0.

“Alana set the tone on the mound,” said Southeast Bulloch coach Aimee Civalier. “Delanie Thames set the tone on offense with three homers, which was huge.”

The Jackets got solid pitching from Alana Barnard in both games, plus three home runs, and six RBI’s from Delanie Thames. Barnard finished with 23 strikeouts in a total of 11 innings of work.

Thames was 2-2 with two home runs in game one, and was intentionally walked twice. Gracie Burgin went 3-4 with two runs scored, Makinley Fields was 3-4 with a pair of RBI’s and Barnard pitched four innings with eight strikeouts. 

In Game 2 Barnard pitched a complete game, and struck out 15 batters. Thames continued to be red hot at the plate going 2-3 with a three run homer. 

The win ensures the Jackets of a top seed in the state playoffs. The Jackets open the Class-AAA playoffs hosting a yet to be determined opponent Wednesday at 4 p.m. for the first two games in a best-of-three series.