Buford splits with Franklin County after easy Game 1 win

BUFORD -- After Wednesday's doubleheader split between Buford and Franklin County, it may be difficult to figure out which team has the momentum heading into tonight's winner-take-all Game 3 in the second round of the Class AAA state softball tournament.

That's because top-ranked Buford took a solid 4-0 win over Franklin County in Game 1.

But that momentum didn't last long as Franklin County, ranked No. 8 in Class AAA, returned the favor in Game 2 with a convincing 8-0 six-inning win over Buford to set up Game 3.

Buford (27-3) and Franklin County (25-11) will meet tonight at 6 p.m. with the winner advancing.

"This is obviously a new team and a different team for us this year, so we'll find out what we're made of tomorrow," said Buford head coach Tony Wolfe of the five-time defending Class AA state champions. "Franklin County found out a little bit about what they're made of in that second game with their backs against the wall. So we'll see how we respond. Each team had one big inning tonight. We've just got to come back tomorrow and it's a one-game shot."

In Game 1, Buford rode a three-hit shutout from right-hander Bria Bush and a late-inning offensive push to take the 4-0 win.

Bush (17-2) struck out 10 and didn't walk a batter in her 16th complete game of the season.

The sophomore worked perfect innings in the second, third, fourth and sixth en route to the victory while allowing just one base runner to reach third base in the game.

"After watching Franklin County) knocking the ball around in Game 2, you start really appreciate how good (Bria) was in Game 1,"said Wolfe. "We were willing to throw her a little bit in Game 2, but obviously not when we were behind and got down three (runs)."

Buford had an early chance to get on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first inning as the Wolves loaded the bases with one out.

But Franklin County right-hander Leigh Beatenbough got a strikeout and a groundout to end the frame.

Buford only managed two base runners from the second through the fifth as Beatenbough kept Franklin County even with the Wolves.

In the sixth, Buford finally broke through as the Wolves put up four runs and that would be enough for Bush.

Remington Hasty (2-for-2, walk) singled and Jordan Deep doubled to start the inning.

That brought Tessa Daniels to the plate and she drove home Hasty and courtesy runner Sydney Stavro with a double to right for a 2-0 Buford lead.

Abbey Mitchell, running for Daniels, scored when Bekah Rude put down a bunt and moved to second on an infield error to increase the margin to 3-0.

Rude came home with the fourth run of the inning when Noah Sudderth hit a sacrifice fly to right.

In Game 2, Franklin County put a seven spot on the board in the bottom of the second to take a 7-0 lead and make life easy for starting pitcher Taylor Waldrop and Beatenbough in relief.

An RBI single from Cassie Hall scored Waldrop, who had tripled to start the inning, to make it 1-0 Franklin County.

Mary Catherine Burrell then reached on an error to score Cassie Hall and the Lions stretched the lead to 2-0.

Meagan Lovell followed with an RBI single to chase home Burrell and Lovell scored when Kristen Hall reached on another Buford error to make it 4-0.

Franklin County added three more runs in the second as Kendsey Chappelear doubled in Kristen Hall, Carli Hurtado scored on the third Buford error of the inning and Chappelear came home on a strikeout with the seventh run.

Buford had a great scoring chance in the top of the fifth to climb back in the game as the Wolves loaded the bases on three consecutive walks with no outs.

But a strikeout, force play at home and a groundout to second snuffed out the threat.

Franklin County finished it off in the bottom of the sixth as Hurtado singled home Caty McCauley for the 8-0 final.