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Softball: Lady Wolves advance to Columbus for ninth straight time

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter
BUFORD -- Once again the Buford girls softball will make the trek to Columbus in search of some good bar-b-que and another state title.

The Lady Wolves turned in a very business-like performance Wednesday sweeping Morgan County in the second round of the Class AAA playoffs, winning 11-0 in five innings and 15-7 in six innings at Lady Wolves Field.

The series win moves the Lady Wolves into the Elite 8 of the Class AAA tournament and is the ninth straight season they have advanced to at least the quarterfinal round. Meanwhile, Commerce, in the Class A public playoffs, also booked a spot in Columbus, sweeping Mt. Zion, Carroll, on Tuesday. And Jackson County split its second round doubleheader with Ringgold and will play the deciding Game 3 on Thursday, also in the Class AAA bracket. And, in Class AA, Jefferson was swept out of the playoffs by Bremen.

No program is quite is as familiar with the surroundings of Columbus as Buford, however -- a position the Lady Wolves hold in high regard.

"It feels great and I'm real excited for the seniors," Buford coach Tony Wolfe said. "To go that many times in a row is a testament to the players we've had in the program over the years. It never gets old, though."

The action in Columbus will begin next Thursday. It is not known yet who the Lady Wolves will play. Buford is looking for an unprecedented seventh straight state title.

While Buford pitchers Bria Bush and Tessa Daniels earned the wins, it was senior first baseman Morgan Walters that set the tone early. Walters belted a three-run home run in the first inning of Game 1 for the early lead and they would cruise from there.

Walters added another three-run shot in Game 2 and followed that with a RBI triple. She would finish with eight RBI and four runs scored in the two games.

"(Morgan) is really swinging the bat well right now," Wolfe said. "She's been hitting well all season but she was really in the groove today."

Walters now has 13 home runs and 51 RBI on the season.

Game 2: Buford 11, Morgan County 0

The Lady Wolves wasted little time in jumping on Morgan County starter Alishia Frierson. Walters belted a three-run home run for a 3-0 lead in the first inning.

Buford blew the game open in the third.

The first six batters reached and would score for the Lady Wolves. Niki Cook led off with a single and would score on Remington Hasty's double. After Jordan Deep and Daniels both walked to load the bases, Walters followed with an RBI single and then Noah Sudderth drove in two more with a double for a 7-0 lead.

Sydney Stavro made it 8-0 with a bases loaded walk, Baylee Sexton knocked in a run with a single, and Hasty would add her second RBI of the inning on a ground out for a 10-0 lead.

Stavro would make it 11-0 in the fourth on a single scoring pinch-runner Aislynn Kimbro.

Bush would go the distance for her 14th win of the season. The junior right-hander scattered four hits and struck out three in a complete-game effort.

Game 2: Buford 15, Morgan County 7

The Lady Wolves again jumped out to a quick lead when Cook walked to start the game, stole second, and later scored on a single by Deep.

But Morgan County would answer in the bottom of the first. The Lady Bulldogs tied the game at 1-1 when Frierson walked and scored on a RBI ground out by Aubree Cox.

Buford would take control in the third. Sexton walked and scored on a sacrifice fly by Hasty and the Walters struck again with a two-out, three-run home run for a 5-1 lead.

They blew it open in the fourth. Deep would crank a two-run home run and Walters would add an RBI triple -- her eighth RBI of the series -- to highlight a six-run inning for an 11-1 lead. Hasty had a two-run double and Drew Puckett had an RBI single in the inning.

Morgan County would score one run in the bottom of the fourth on a RBI sacrifice fly by Ellis to cut the lead to 11-2. Buford would extend the lead to 13-2 in the top of the fifth.

Buford was ready to close out the series but Morgan County had other ideas. The Lady Bulldogs struck for four runs off Kennedy Kotula, who came in to start the fifth, in the bottom of the inning.

Daniels would return and get out of the inning and then allow one run in the bottom of the sixth to get the win. Daniels allowed one earned run in six innings on four hits and struck out five.

Samantha Thomas added a solo home run in the top of the sixth for Buford.

-- NOTE: Commerce will face Gordon-Lee in its first game of the double-elimination tournament in Columbus. The Lady Tigers will begin play at 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 31. ... Buford will play its first game at 2:30 p.m. Oct. 31 against the winner of the Central-Carrollton vs. Tattnall County series, which went to three games. ... Jackson County, should it win on Thursday, would also play at 2:30 p.m. on Oct. 31 against the winner of the Dodge County vs. Rockmart series.
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