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Buford moves into Region 7-AAA softball finals
Lady Wolves topped Dawson County 4-1 at East Hall on Wednesday
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Buford High pitcher Bria Bush grabs a ground ball and prepares to throw to first during the third inning of the Region 8-AAA softball tournament game between Buford and Dawson County High at East Hall Park Wednesday evening. - photo by Scott Rogers | The Times

Region 7-AAA tournament
Thursday’s games

Dawson County vs. Fannin County, 4 p.m.

Buford vs. Dawson County/Fannin County winner, 6 p.m.

All games at Buford High

The road to the Region 7-AAA softball title goes through Buford. And for Dawson County or Fannin County, the other two left playing for seeding and a shot at the championship, it will also have to be done on Buford’s home field.

On Wednesday, top-ranked Buford (23-2) rode a four-run fourth inning to a 4-1 win against Dawson County (17-7-1) in the tournament semifinals at East Hall Park. With the win, the Lady Wolves have secured a top-two seed to the playoffs and at least one home playoff game.

The winner of the Dawson County/Fannin County game at 4 p.m. will turn around and face Buford at 6 p.m. in the Region 7-AAA championship tonight.

Either Dawson County or Fannin County would need to beat Buford twice in the final to claim the region title.

“We’re excited to be coming back to play the finals at home and undefeated in the tournament,” said Buford coach Tony Wolfe, who is trying to lead his program to a state-record sixth straight state title.

Buford scored four unearned runs in the top of the fourth inning to break the game open.

Freshman Drew Puckett had the big hit for Buford, driving a 2-2 pitch over the wall just to the right of center field for a three-run home run, the first home run of her career.

Remington Hasty and Tessa Daniels both scored on Puckett’s home run after reaching on singles.

The inning started for the Lady Wolves when Baylee Sexton reached on an error, a sharply hit ball down the third base line that wasn’t fielded, then moved to second base on a passed ball.

With runners on the corners, Daniels connected on a single to left field that plated the first run of the inning.

When Puckett came to the plate and two on base, she continued to battle. With a 2-2 count, she fouled off three pitches before seeing the one she liked.

Even though the home run was the first, she’s been a valuable part of the Lady Wolves’ lineup. Wolfe says that Puckett has a handful of doubles and triples this season.

“I’m so happy for her,” Wolfe said. “She’s had an excellent season and has a chance to be a special player here at Buford.”

Trailing 4-0 going into the sixth inning, Carly Gilreath got Dawson County on the board with a lead-off home run, the first home run of her career, according to Dawson County coach Jimmy Pruett.

That was the final hit for the Lady Tigers. Buford starter Bria Bush (14-2) struck out the final six hitters in order, and finished the game with nine strikeouts and allowed three hits.

“We knew that Bria was going to need to throw the ball well against Dawson County,” Wolfe said. “I’m very proud of her effort.”

With the loss, Dawson County faces Fannin County, an 8-5 winner against Banks County in the late game, at 4 today in Buford. The winner advances to face Buford in the finals, while the loser is the No. 3 seed to the postseason.

FANNIN COUNTY 8, BANKS COUNTY 5: Jace Armstrong pitched a complete game, allowing six hits with three strikeouts from the pitching circle for the Lady Rebels. Missy Dixon and Candace German each chipped in a pair of hits for Fannin County, which started the day with an 8-0 win against East Hall to secure a playoff berth.

With the loss, Banks County is assured the No. 4 playoff spot from Region 7-AAA.

BANKS COUNTY 5, WHITE COUNTY 4: Haley Warner had a two-run double for Banks County, along with a sacrifice fly that scored another run to start the day on Wednesday.

Savannah Denton was the winning pitcher for the Lady Leopards, collecting two strikeouts and allowing five hits.

The win secured Banks County’s berth in the postseason. With the loss, White County’s season is now complete.

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