Above Photo:  Teammates celebrate as senior Abbi Perkins comes across home plate after hitting her first-ever high school grand slam home run on Monday night against East Paulding.  Photo by Alicia Couch Payne

BUFORD — Buford has a dynamic varsity softball team this year led by senior Abbi Perkins and anchored by a bevy of freshmen up and comers.  With a team of 11 upperclassmen and 10 underclassmen, no one was really sure of what to expect this season especially with such a young group of pitchers.  

Freshman pitcher Emma Grace Williams has been instrumental in the Wolves’ success this season. Photo by Alicia Couch Payne

Buford’s bullpen has one senior, two sophomores and three freshmen.  It has primarily been the job of the younger pitchers to carry the team and they have really come through for the Wolves.  Pitchers like sophomore Olivia Duncan and freshman Emma Grace Williams have proven that they can compete with anyone.  

The Wolves are ranked seventh in the state with an overall season record of 28-4 and 15-0 in Region 8-AAAAAA.  Buford’s four losses were all to solid teams in Class AAAAAAA.  To put Buford’s success this season into perspective, Buford has averaged 7.90 runs per game to their opponent’s 2.47 runs per game going into the state playoffs.   

With Buford taking the region title, they earned home-field advantage for the first round of the GHSA Class AAAAAA Playoffs.  The Wolves took on the Raiders from East Paulding in a doubleheader on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, at the Buford Softball Complex. Buford would beat East Paulding 8-0 in game one and 21-10 in game two.

In game one, Duncan (10-1) pitched her eighth complete game of the season, as well as her fourth shutout of the season.  In six innings of work, Duncan gave up only four hits while striking out seven.  She did not allow any runs nor did she walk a single batter against the Raiders.

Freshman Mackenzie Pickens led Buford’s offense in the first game against East Paulding on Monday.  Photo – Alicia Couch Payne

Freshman Mackenzie Pickens led the offense in the first game going 2-for-4 with two doubles, two RBIs and a run scored.  Freshman Adrianna Martinez hit a two-run home run earning herself two RBIs and a run scored.  Sophomore Emma Castorri was 3-for-3 with three doubles, an RBI and two runs scored.  Rounding out the first game’s offensive standouts for Buford was junior Shamya Young who was 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored.

Williams (11-1) pitched for 3.3 innings for Buford in the second game.  She gave up nine hits and nine runs.  Senior Riley Reese would take over and pitch the remaining 1.6 innings.  Reese gave up one run and one hit while striking out four and walking one.

The highlight of game two’s offensive efforts was a grand slam by Perkins in the second inning.  This was the first grand slam of Perkins’ high school career.  She was 4-for-4 during the second game with her grand slam home run and three doubles which earned her seven RBIs and a run scored. Junior Taylor Malvin was 3-for-4 with a triple, four RBIs and four runs scored.  Sophomore Chloe Hatcher went 2-for-4 with two doubles, two RBIs and three runs scored.  Rounding out game two’s offensive standouts for the Wolves was freshman Tavye Borders who was 2-for-3 with an RBI, two runs scored and a stolen base.

With the wins over East Paulding, Buford advances to the second round of the state playoffs.  They will play on Thursday, Oct. 22 at the Buford Softball Complex against River Ridge.

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