Buford grads Lexi Overstreet and Kallie Case have played together for awhile now, in travel ball and at Buford High, where the pair led the Lady Wolves to four consecutive state titles.
But next season, when the two meet again on the same diamond, only one will be able to leave with the win.
“We said we’re still going to be friends off the field,” Case said. “But every time we play each other its going to be business.”
And, with Overstreet headed to Tennessee and Case to defending national champion and Southeastern Conference foe Alabama, the two former Buford stars will have plenty of chances to get down to business.
“Its going to be different playing against her,” said Overstreet, who added that she will let her coaches know of Case’s weaknesses and vice versa. “We’ve been playing on the same teams for a long time.”
Their high school coach, Tony Wolfe, said he expects both to be impact players at the college level right away, not unlike Overstreet and Case starting as freshmen on the 2009 state championship team.
“They came in as freshmen and started right away, and both had major impacts as freshmen,” Wolfe said. “You could see that their skill sets were different than most other freshmen.
“You could tell right away their athleticism, skill sets and work ethic gave it away that they were going to be special.”
The two, who were both recently ranked in the top half of ESPN’s Top 100 high school softball players for 2012, only got better as the years progressed.
As a senior last season, Case hit 10 home runs and stole 52 bases, while Overstreet hit over .400 along with a program-best 18 home runs.
Wolfe said that Case’s ability to excel in three phases (hitting, running and fielding) and Overstreet’s natural hitting abilities and versatility (she played a different position each year of high school) will make them invaluable immediately, even to loaded SEC teams.
“I think they’re that gifted,” Wolfe said. “They’re both going to great programs, but they have rare abilities and great work ethics, and both understand the game and can play in the biggest moments.
“I won’t be surprised at all if both aren’t starting as freshmen and having big impacts.”
Overstreet is looking at returning to being a catcher for the Lady Vols despite being recruited as a corner outfielder.
She said that, with last season’s starter graduating, her and an upcoming sophomore will most likely compete for the job.
Case said she would like to play second base but, as a high school shortstop, can play just about anywhere, according to Wolfe.
Case, who, along with Overstreet, has been playing for the East Cobb Bullets 18 Gold travel ball team, added that playing at Buford has helped prepare the teammates for SEC softball.
“I’ve just been so blessed. Buford’s not like any other high school, it can’t compare,” she said. “It’s the coaching and athletics, but more than that, it’s the family. Everyone says Buford is like a family.”
And Overstreet won’t forget the unique experiences that the two players, along with the rest of the Lady Wolves 2012 graduates, have had over the past four years.
“I’m really blessed with the coach that I have, and I’m so glad I got to play with him for four years,” she said. “Not every player gets to experience winning state four years. It’s cool to say that you won it all four years during high school.”
The left-handed power hitter added that the focus of the coaches has made a big difference, notably the fact that the nearly half dozen coaches all focus on one group of players for most of the practices, enabling each player a little extra individualized attention, not unlike in college.
It’s little surprise then that, in addition to Case and Overstreet, three prior Buford grads are playing for Georgia Tech and another just graduated from Georgia.
Still, as Wolfe pointed out, it’ll be a new experience for both.
“We try to prepare them how to practice, how to prepare, and get them that mentality for the next level,” he said. “But it’s just a different world.
“Playing at Alabama or Tennessee will be different than Buford for sure.”
However, the regular season series, along with possible meetings in the conference and national tournaments, will be a chance for two of Buford’s best to reconnect.
Wolfe is hoping to see the two teams back in the Women’s College World Series against each other, with a former Lady Wolves player in each dugout.
“If it’s like this year, they’ll meet in the College World Series,” he said. “And I’d love to see that happen.”