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Rain causes hours of delays at state softball tourney

COLUMBUS — Inclement weather will always be a threat to disrupt the state high school softball tournament.

However, the addition of essentially two new classifications in 2012, combined with the rain that moved in overnight and continued throughout Friday morning, played havoc with the schedule for the second day of games for this year's tournament.

Despite the fields being covered by tarps, the scheduled games Friday were pushed back some five hours.

That means elimination games involving Brookwood and North Gwinnett in the Class AAAAAA tournament originally scheduled for 11 a.m. are now set for approximately 4 p.m.

But perhaps the two most affected of Gwinnett's teams involved are the two that are in the winner's bracket finals.

Buford (35-1), which was initially scheduled to take on Oconee County in the AAA winner's bracket finals at 5 p.m., now won't take the field until about 10 tonight.

It makes an already long wait to take take the field for the six-time defending state champion Wolves even longer, but head coach Tony Wolfe says he and his players and staff will try to deal with the delay as best they can.

"It's obviously a concern," Wolfe said. "We have a pretty good (schedule) plan (each year), but now it gets stretched out a little. We're trying to keep them busy, but not too busy that they lose their energy or get worn out."

Collins Hill (27-5), which was supposed to take on Harrison in the Class AAAAAA winner's bracket final at 7 p.m., will now likewise have to wait until 10 p.m. for its first pitch.

And like Wolfe, Eagles coach Paul Pierce is trying to rearrange his team's schedule in order to keep a three-hour delay in playing from becoming too disruptive.

"Everybody's in the same boat," Pierce said. "But the one thing you can't control is the weather. You just try to do what you do and try to stay in a routine. But the girls play in so many tournaments, it's probably the coaches that get more upset than the players. We're trying to arrange the schedules for stuff like meals and travel (to the complex), all while keeping (the players) safe."