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Buford, Wesleyan sweep into winner's bracket final

Photo: Darrell Roaden Bufordis Lexi Overstreet connects on a base hit in the 2nd inning against Blessed Trinity during the state tournament Thursday in Columbus.
 Photo: Darrell Roaden Wesleyanis Landyn Duley is safe at second base after a high throw to George Walton Academyis Tara Chisholm during the state tournament game on Thursday in Columbus. 

Photo: Darrell Roaden Bufordis Lexi Overstreet connects on a base hit in the 2nd inning against Blessed Trinity during the state tournament Thursday in Columbus. Photo: Darrell Roaden Wesleyanis Landyn Duley is safe at second base after a high throw to George Walton Academyis Tara Chisholm during the state tournament game on Thursday in Columbus. 

COLUMBUS -- In search of its fifth straight Class AA state championship, No. 2 state-ranked Buford flexed its collective muscle during opening day at the GHSA State Softball Tournament.

The Wolves pounded five home runs and scored a total of 20 runs on the day in posted wins of 8-0 over Southeast Bulloch and 12-0 over Region 6-AA rival Blessed Trinity on Thursday at the South Commons Softball Complex.

Meanwhile, Gwinnett's other Wolves in the tournament -- Wesleyan -- also brought out some big bats, pounding out 16 runs on the day to move into the winner's bracket final in Class A with upsets of 9-6 over No. 5 Bacon County and 7-2 of eighth-ranked George Walton Academy.

Buford (31-10) had a huge afternoon at the plate throughout its lineup, but especially Lexi Overstreet, who finished the day with four hits -- two of which left the park -- and drove in seven runs.

Jordan Deep, Noah Sudderth and Kodi Ricketson also went deep to supplement the power display by the Wolves, who will take on ninth-ranked Pike County in the winner's bracket final today at 5 p.m.

"Obviously, we swung the bats really well ... all day," Buford coach Tony Wolfe said. "It feels like it came too easy, and that's always a worry because it's not supposed to be easy. Pike County looks like they got battle tested (Thursday) for sure and come out with wins. ... We've got to make sure out kids don't relax because of the kind of scores we had."

Buford actually managed just four hits in their opening win over Southeast Bulloch, but made all of them count.

Deep's three-run homer in the third put Buford in front 3-0, and Overstreet followed with another three-run blast the following inning to make the score 6-0.

Lanier Paul and Aly Hicks then added an RBI single each in the fifth, which was plenty of support for freshman left-hander Tessa Daniels (15-3), who shut down the Yellow Jackets on two hits with two strikeouts over five innings.

It didn't take nearly as long for Buford to get on the board the nightcap against Blessed Trinity and it was more of the usual suspects doing the damage.

Kallie Case led off the game with a walk, stole second -- her 45th steal of the season -- was sacrificed to third by Remington Hasty and came home on Overstreet's bloop RBI single to left, giving the Wolves a 1-0 lead, which only grew in the second.

Kodi Ricketson led off by launching an 0-1 pitch from Titans starter Aileen Pollitzer well over the fence in left field to extend the Buford lead to 2-0.

Eight more batters and five more hits -- including Daniels' two-run single, an RBI infield single by Case and another RBI single from Overstreet -- and an error later, the Wolves had added five more runs, making the score 6-0.

That allowed Buford's other freshman pitcher -- right-hander Bria Bush (11-4) -- to cruise the rest of the way, giving up just three hits and striking out five in four innings in the Wolves' second run-rule victory of the day.

Sudderth also had a big game at the plate for the Wolves, going 3-for-3 with a double, a homer and two RBIs, while Daniels was 2-for-3 with two RBIs, Ricketson added a double to go 2-for-2 and Hasty also finished 2-for-2.

Offense was also the story of the day for Wesleyan (23-11), which will meet top-ranked Gordon Lee in today's winner's bracket final at 5 p.m.

"(The players are) doing a good job of knowing what their pitch is, and then sitting back and waiting for that pitch," Wesleyan coach Nichole Dixon said. "I really think our kids know that every inning, they're capable of putting up a lot of runs."

The Wolves did plenty of that Thursday, first outlasting Bacon County, thanks to two hits and two RBIs each from Katie Frerking and Victoria DiStasi, plus a strong all-around outing from Dacia Jones (14-8), who combined with Amanda DeLaPerriere in the circle and added a hit and an RBI at the plate.

In the nightcap against George Walton, CaraMia Tsirigos had a big game both at the plate (3-for-4, double, RBI) and in the field as the catcher gunned down three attempted base stealers and picked off another baserunner, while Jones went the distance to give the Wolves a chance at their third upset of a ranked team tonight against Gordon Lee.

"Our kids have been challenged throughout the year," Dixon said. "We're just excited to have a chance to play Gordon Lee."

Landyn Duley had a big day for Wesleyan, going 3-for-7 with an RBI and stolen base, while Caitlin Crabill finished the day 3-for-7 with two doubles and two RBIs.