COAL MOUNTAIN — Buford opened the battle of No. 1 softball teams in the state with a bang.
Taylor Malvin (3 for 4, solo home run, double, RBI, 2 runs) and MacKenzie Pickens ( 2 for 4, 2-run home run (8th), 2 RBIs, 1 run) hammered back-to-back home runs in the top of the first inning to help pace the Class 6A top-ranked Wolves (16-2) to a 5-4 win over Class 7A No. 1-ranked North Forsyth (20-2) on Monday at Raider Field.
But the Raiders, on Senior Night and down 4-0, began to rally in the third inning. Olivia Tyson started the three-run inning with a single, Lauren Fields walked a battle later, the Taylor Pipkins drove Tyson home on a fielder's choice for the Raiders' first run. Later in the inning, after Durban walked, Alexis Monroe drove in Fields and Pipkins to close the gap, 4-3.
Over the next three innings, the two top-ranked teams combined for just two hits and no runs. But in the seventh inning, Tavye Borders, who reached on an error earlier in the inning, scored off a Madison Pickens' sacrifice fly, giving the Wolves an insurance run.
The Raiders added a run in the bottom of the inning but left the tying run on base, ending the game on a strikeout and a routine pop fly to right field.
Junior Olivia Duncan (7-2) earned the win in the circle, allowing seven hits, four runs and six strikeouts in the complete-game performance. It was her seventh complete-game outing.
CHEROKEE BLUFF 15,
DAWSON COUNTY 10
The Bears (18-5, 14-3 Region 7-3A) rolled past Dawson County, 15-10, to remain in a tie for second place in the region standings on Monday in Dawsonville.
Bluff remains two games behind region leader, East Forsyth, with four crucial games left, including a massive battle with East Forsyth on Tuesday. Lumpkin County, North Hall and White County also remain on the schedule.
Dawson County (8-16, 8-8 Region 7-3A) is holding a one-game lead over North Hall for the fourth playoff seed. The Tigers also have four big games left to solidify at playoff position, including a big home game against North Hall, followed by White County, East Forsyth and Gilmer.
Stephanie Condland had 2 hits including the biggest flash of the game a solo home run, while Clarissa McDaniel led the Bears' plate performance, driving in four runs on three hits. Lauren Rule and Tally Ragone also had three hits and two RBIs each. Kate Herren drove in two runs on four hits.
EAST HALL 5,
Callie Dale ripped a walk-off double to lead East Hall (9-9, 3-6 Region 8-4A) past Jefferson, 5-4, on Monday at East Hall Park.
With the game was tied, 4-4, in the bottom of the ninth inning, Dale's double came on an 0-1 pitch out.
The loss dropped the Dragons (10-8, 6-5) out of a tie for the third playoff seed with Flowery Branch. Jefferson travels to Flowery Branch on Tuesday.
Calli Hardison earned the win for East Hall, giving up six hits over nine innings while striking out nine.