Class AA state softball tournament
Buford (26-4) vs. Dade County (24-12)
When: Wednesday, Oct. 20
How much: $5
Directions: From Gainesville, take 1-985 S to Exit 8. Turn right on Friendship Road and left onto GA-13 S. Go 1.6 miles and turn right onto Sawnee Ave. School will be on the right.
BUFORD— The Buford High softball team used 28 hits and two complete-game wins to defeat Dawson County, 6-0, 10-1, in the opening round of the Class AA state tournament Wednesday in Buford.
Going into the match up, Buford coach Tony Wolfe believed the series would come down to the bats of the top-ranked Lady Wolves (26-4).
“Coming in, we thought that the key was going to be how well we would swing the bats against their pitching,” Wolfe said.
After six runs on 12 hits in Game 1 and 10 runs on 16 hits in Game 2, Wolfe had an answer, and the Lady Wolves advanced the second round, where they will play host Dade County on Oct. 20.
Not only did Buford hit well on Wednesday, but pitchers Melissa Dickie and Karly Fullem combined for two complete-game wins with 12 strikeouts in 12 innings pitched.
In Game 1, Dickie (12-3) gave up four hits and struck out five while walking four.
The senior’s only rough moment of the night came in the top of the fourth as Dawson County (14-15-1) managed to load the bases after a hit and two walks.
Wolfe went out to the talk to his pitcher, but said he had no plans to remove her from the game.
“Melissa is a big game pitcher and she’s done it for us for a long time,” Wolfe said. “It was more to go out and try to get her refocused and pick her up a little bit.”
The visit to the circle worked. Dickie got the next batter to lineout to shortstop Kallie Case, who tagged the base runner for the double-play to end the inning.
Dickie chipped in from the plate as well, going 2-for-3 with an RBI.
The Buford offense broke the game open in the bottom of the fifth inning, putting five runners on base in the inning and getting three of them across the plate.
After back-to-back singles from Lexi Overstreet and Fullem, a triple by Kodi Ricketson made the game 4-0. Ricketson, who finished the game 2-for-3 with three RBIs and two runs scored, was driven in by a Madyson Wynegar (2-for-4) ground ball.
Buford added another run in the bottom of the sixth and Dickie shut down the Dawson County offense 1-2-3 in the seventh to give the Lady Wolves a Game 1 win. Gracie Hoven was the only Lady Tiger with two hits, going 2-for-3 with a stolen base in the game.
The starter of Game 2, Fullem (12-1), threw her 12th complete game of the season, striking out seven in five innings.
Despite the strong performance from Fullem, it was the Buford offense that stole the show early.
The Lady Wolves started the top of the first with back-to-back hits from Chelsie Thomas and Cara Cole. After a ground out by Case, Fullem smacked an RBI single to put Buford on the board first, 1-0.
After Dawson County pitcher Jenna Abbott struck out Ricketson, Wynegar stepped to the plate and belted a ball over the right-center fence to make the game 5-0 Buford.
Fullem credits the early runs as one factor that helped her be so dominant from the circle.
“It’s easy when your offense gets you going,” Fullem said. “I already had five runs before I went into the circle.”
Buford added two runs in the fourth and three in the fifth to earn the five-inning win. Overstreet finished the game 2-for-3 with two RBIs and three runs scored for Buford.
Kim Wallace had the lone RBI on the day for the Lady Tigers and Abbott took both loses form the circle.
“I thought we played really well,” Wolfe said. “We played pretty complete. We ran the bases pretty well, put some pressure on with our base running, we pitched the ball awfully well and I think we played good defense all day long.”
Dawson County coach Jim Pruett was disappointed with the loss, but proud of how the Lady Tigers fought against Buford.
“We played hard,” Pruett said. “We played a really good team, a really good program with a lot of tradition.”
Pruett said he knew that a first-round upset of Buford wouldn’t be easy.
“We knew it was going to be a big challenge coming in,” Pruett said. “We played well for five innings of the first game and they just started hitting the ball.
“We knew they were a great hitting team.”
Pruett said that the big five-run first inning in Game 2 “kind of took the win out of our sails a little bit.”
“We felt like we could’ve gotten out of that inning 0-0,” Pruett said. “But they took advantage of our mistake and that’s what good teams do.
With the loss, Dawson County’s season is now complete.