COLUMBUS — Buford’s Ashley Razey saved her biggest hit for last.
Already 2-for-3 in the game against Greater Atlanta Christian (35-2-1), Razey came to bat in the top of the eighth inning with the game scoreless and the bases loaded and smashed a grand slam to deep centerfield to give No.2 Buford (30-6-1) a 4-0 victory over top-ranked GAC in the Class AA State softball tournament Friday night in Columbus.
"I knew I had it," Razey said of her big hit. "Every pitch (GAC pitcher Jessica Coan) threw I had a smile on my face because I knew I was going to get a big hit for my team."
Razey’s long bomb came in the eighth inning of what was predominately a pitchers’ duel.
Coan, who is considered one of the top pitchers in the state of Georgia, lived up to the hype by striking out 12 Lady Wolves in her eight innings on the mound.
While Coan’s performance was far from a surprise, the performance of Buford’s freshman Melissa Dickie was.
Dickie matched Coan inning for inning and finished the game with seven strikeouts and eight innings of shutout ball.
"We think a lot of (Dickie) and we felt she’d give us a great effort tonight," said Buford coach Tony Wolfe. "We didn’t expect her to throw eight innings of shutout ball, but we knew she could do it.
"(Dickie) is a big time pitcher and loves the big moments."
The biggest moment of the game came in the top of the seventh when shortstop Whitney Holman singled to left field to give the Lady Wolves runners on the corners with only one out. Chelsea Thomas then executed a perfectly placed bunt that was fielded by Coan, who checked the runner on third, allowing Thomas to reach safely and load the bases.
Five pitches later, Razey took a screwball from Coan and sent it over the centerfield fence to give the Lady Wolves the lead.
With a four-run lead, Dickie came through in the bottom of the eighth by striking out two batters and getting Chaney Means to ground out back to the pitcher to end the game and put Buford into the championship game.
"I wasn’t nervous at all," Dickie said. "I was calm and relaxed the whole time."
Buford will now take on the winner of the GAC/Berrien County game at 11:30 a.m. for the Class AA Championship.
Jefferson 5, Savannah County Day 4
Brittney Smith scored on a wild pitch with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth inning to give the Lady Dragons of Jefferson a 5-4 victory on Friday, advancing the team in the Class A State softball tournament in Columbus.
Kimberlee Tolbert struck out nine batters and scored two runs for the Lady Dragons.
Leading Jefferson at the plate was Brianna Caudell (1-for-3 with a run scored) and Smith, with two runs scored.
The Lady Dragons will now play ELCA at 9:45 a.m. on Saturday. If Jefferson wins, it will play Gordon Lee in the Class A championship game at 11:45 a.m.