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Prep softball notes: Buford pitching specializing in zeros

Those watching Buford’s softball team who haven’t already become accustomed to seeing the Wolves hand out zeros to opposing teams should probably get used to it.

The biggest zero for the six-time defending state champions right now is in the loss column. In addition to winning their first 12 games of the 2013 season, including the first five Region 7-AAA contests, Thursday’s 12-0 win at Dawson County on Thursday was their 17th straight dating back to a loss to Franklin County in the second round of last year’s state playoffs.

And backed by the pitching of juniors Bria Bush, Tessa Daniels and Emily Crocker, the Wolves have been just as stingy in giving up runs.

The Buford staff have thrown shutouts in five of their first 12 games this year, including the last two in wins over Dawson County and White County, with Bush and Daniels each tossing two and Crocker blanking one opponent.

The Wolves still have a while to go to catch the school record of six consecutive shutouts, but are well on their way to meeting the team’s average of 15.6 over the past eight seasons, and could challenge the high mark of 19 set in 2008.

Though it wasn’t a shutout, the Wolves also picked up a milestone victory with a 10-2 victory over East Hall on Aug. 28, giving Tony Wolfe his 200th career victory since becoming head coach in 2007, as well as the first varsity pitching victory for his daughter, sophomore Peyton Wolfe.

Heavy-handed Harrison

While shutouts are in style at Buford, one pitcher just down the road at North Gwinnett seems to be specializing in strikeouts lately.

The senior right-hander fanned 13 opponents in two different games this past week, once while throwing a two-hit shutout in a 3-0 win over Habersham Central on Tuesday and again while giving up just one hit and two unearned runs in a 5-2 Bulldogs win over West Forsyth on Friday.

Each of those outings rank her second on North’s single-game strikeout list behind only Jessica Batten, who struck out 17 during a game in 2005.

Falcons flying high so far

It’s still quite early, but Dacula’s initial results have the Falcons thinking they have a chance for their first postseason berth since 2009.

Buoyed by a youthful line-up that includes freshman Makenzie Vanderhorst (.500 average, 5 RBIs) and sophomores Sabrina Sieber (.474, 8 RBIs), Alexis Deadwyler (.357, 5 RBIs), Bailey Beddingfield (.333, 4 RBIs) and Sam Cates (.260, 6 RBIs), plus a three-headed pitching rotation of seniors Kendra Pfister (2-0, 2.16 ERA) and Keeli Waugh (2-1, 2.62) and freshman Alaina Bock (2-0, 1.65), Dacula has won seven of its first eight games.

It’s the best start for the Falcons since they went 8-1 to start 2008, and ended up winning the region championship.

Coach Tracy Keefer is quick to point out that big tests still lie in front of them, such as region games at Grayson and at home against Brookwood this upcoming week, but she likes what she sees so far.

“It has been a while,” Keefer said when asked about the last time Dacula got off to this quick a start.

“I’m really enjoying watching this team grow. They are getting better each time out in one way or another. So it will be fun to see what happens with our season.”