Staff Photo: John Bohn Buford's Callie Case (12) is late with a tag as North Murray's Baylee Sutton (21) slides safely back to third base during the first inning of game one of the second round of Class AA softball playoffs Thursday.
BUFORD -- Buford's softball team continued its drive for five with a pair of 8-2 victories over North Murray in the second round of the state softball playoffs.
The Wolves (29-10), ranked No. 2 in the state and the four-time defending state champions, used key hits and great pitching en route to both wins.
"These wins didn't come easy," said Buford head coach Tony Wolfe. "You have to give North Murray credit. They fought and fought the whole way through."
North Murray (18-16) jumped on Buford freshman pitcher Tessa Daniels early as they scored two quick runs in the first inning, having the first five batters reach base. But Daniels would settle down, striking out two of the next three hitters to limit the damage.
"Our more experienced players were big there," Wolfe said. "They were talking to her between pitches and encouraging her. That's what you like to see out of your leaders."
In the bottom of the first, the Wolves responded with two runs of their own. With two outs and runners on second and third, Madyson Wynegar laced a two-run double to score Lexi Overstreet and Jordan Deep to tie the score.
Both teams settled down in the second and third innings, with Overstreet making a diving catch in foul territory to end the top of the second.
It was Overstreet again making a big play in the bottom of the fourth when, with the bases loaded, she blasted a grand slam to deep center, leaving no doubt about her power. The blast gave the Wolves a 6-2 lead, which Daniels would hold onto, giving up only one hit and one walk through the last three innings.
Buford added two runs in the bottom of the sixth when Deep laced an RBI double to score Kallie Case and Overstreet, who was intentionally walked, a theme that would replay itself throughout the rest of the night.
After an error and a walk started North Murray off in the top of the seventh, Daniels got three straight outs, including her fifth strikeout to end the game.
In the second game, it was much of the same for the Buford offense, as it scored seven runs in the first three innings.
Case, an Alabama-commitment, reached third on an error and later scored on a Remington Hasty RBI single.
In the second inning, Jazmen Hawkins, running for Noah Sudderth, came around to score on two passed balls. Case then tripled to right-center field. She later scored when Deep was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, giving the Wolves a 3-0 lead.
The third inning was much of the same, as the first five batters got on base. Wynergar singled and later scored on an RBI infield single by Rebekah Rude. Then, with two runners on base, Case came up big again as she laced another triple, scoring Daniels and Rude to give Buford a 6-0 lead. Case later scored when a pickoff attempt went wild, making the score 7-0 in Buford's favor.
However, Wolfe said his team can't sit on a 7-0 lead that early and not try to end the game by run-rule.
"Maybe it's just due to some of our inexperience," he said.
North Murray broke up Bria Bush's perfect game in the bottom of the fourth with a walk and an RBI single, but Buford's lead was still 7-1.
Hawkins scored the Wolves final run, scoring on a ground out by Alexis Baldy.
And, just like her teammate in Game 1, Bush struck out the final batter, her ninth, to send the Wolves to Columbus for the seventh-straight season.
"We're excited to be going back," Wolfe said. "The key is getting there. Once you're there, anything can happen."