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Buford leads the pack of several local schools in state playoffs
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Class AA state tournament, first round

Bremen at Union County, 4 p.m., 6 p.m.
Manchester at Jefferson, 5 p.m., 7 p.m.

Class AAA state tournament, first round

Dawson County at Woodward, TBA
Banks County at Blessed Trinity, 2:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m.
Cartersville at Jackson County, 4:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m.
St. Pius X at Buford, 4:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m.

Class AAAA state tournament, first round

Lumpkin County at Alexander, 5 p.m., 7 p.m.

The Buford softball program could hardly have scripted its first regular season in Class AAA much better.

The five-time defending Class AA champs haven’t broken stride since moving up this fall, cruising to their best regular season record since 2008 and seizing the Region 7-AAA tournament championship last weekend.

But it’s no secret the Lady Wolves have bigger plans, and the quest for a sixth straight state title — and the first for any Buford program as a member of Class AAA — begins today when Buford hosts St. Pius X in a first-round, best-of-three series. Game 1 is set for 4:30 p.m., with Game 2 to follow.

St. Pius X (4-23, No. 4 Region 6-AAA) is a familiar opponent for the Lady Wolves. When the teams met on Aug. 15, Buford won 10-0. In the second meeting on Sept. 25, the Lady Wolves had to fight from behind for a 5-2 victory.

“Some of that is that St. Pius has improved as the year has gone on,” Buford coach Tony Wolfe said. “Some of it was we had way too many emotions on senior night.

“If it comes down to a battle of talent we should win, but we’ve got to stay focused and do things we’ve got to do.”

The Lady Wolves hope some of that talent is returning to full strength. Tessa Daniels, who went 17-4 from the pitcher’s circle last year, missed most of the season with a hamstring injury she suffered while pitching in the finals of a national tournament in early August. She recently returned to the lineup as a first baseman, and Wolfe said the team hopes to work her back into the pitching rotation.

For now, Bria Bush, who pitched the Lady Wolves to the Region 7-AAA title, will start Game 1 against St. Pius.

ELSEWHERE IN CLASS AAA: Buford could face more familiar foes if it advances beyond the second round to the finals in Columbus, as four area teams are in the Class AAA mix this season, including Jackson County, Dawson County and Banks County.

Jackson County (17-15-1) claimed the Region 8-AAA title last week led by a strong performance in the circle and at the plate by sophomore Peyton Sorrells. Sorrells earned the win in the deciding Game 3 against Franklin County, yielding one run and striking out six in six innings. She also had seven hits in the three-game championship series.
The Lady Panthers will host Cartersville with Game 1 set to begin at 4:30 p.m. today.

Dawson County (No. 3 Region 7-AAA) will be at Woodward (No. 2 Region 6-AAA), and Banks County (No. 4 Region 7-AAA) will be at Blessed Trinity (No. 1 Region 6-AAA).

CLASS AA: After a slow start brought on a schedule full of Class AAAAAA opponents and other top-flight competition, Jefferson has found its groove lately.

The Lady Dragons (17-14) have won six of their last seven, including three straight shutouts that helped the team clinch the Region 8-AA championship last week. Morgan McKinney was Jefferson’s ace in the circle and struck out 11 in a 1-0 win over Union County in the region title game.

The Lady Dragons will host Manchester today. First pitch is set for 5 p.m.

As 8-AA’s No. 2 seed, Union County (18-11) will host Bremen.

CLASS AAAA: In its first season after moving up from Class AAA, Lumpkin County seized a playoff spot with the No. 3 seed from Region 8-AAA.

The Lady Indians (18-12) will play at Alexander at 5 p.m. today.

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