AJ, Buford sweep, advance

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Lady Vols, Jackets win Upstate district crowns, battle Saturday at 1 p.m.

By The Staff




County rivals Andrew Jackson and Buford each posted impressive road sweeps to capture Class AA district softball championships to advance to the Upstate championship series Wednesday.

The double-elimination tournament opens Saturday as AJ hosts Buford at 1 p.m.

Gilbert hosts Central of Pageland in the other Class AA Upstate title series game.

Buford sweeps Broome

Buford earned a double helping of sweet revenge, capturing the Class AA Upper State District II championship with two clutch wins over host Broome on Wednesday.

The 21-7 Lady Jackets, who fell to fourth-rated Broome, 8-3 in a winner’s bracket game on Saturday, avenged the five-run setback with two crucial wins to advance to the Class AA Upper State championship series.

“We seem to do better with our backs to the wall,” Buford coach “C” Davis said. “This was a great win. It’s always tough to win two clutch games away from home. I tip my hat to AJ because they did the same. It says a great deal that two teams from our county are in the Upstate title series and three teams from our region are in the tournament.”

Davis noted the Lady Jackets’ keys to the wins.

“We played solid defense and produced clutch hits,” Davis said. “We’re starting to peak at the right time.”

In the clincher, Carley Bailey, 16-7, won her second game of the day, tossing a six-hitter and allowed an earned run and no walks. She struck out two Lady Centurions.

Bailey aided the Lady Jackets cause with two hits, scored two runs and drove in a pair of runs. She also had a stolen base.

Ashley Lloyd drilled two hits and drove in three runs. Hannah Knight had two hits and scored twice.

Daphne Honeycutt had a hit and scored a run. Catie Rowell also had a hit for the maroon and gold winners.

In the opener, Buford, snapping a scoreless draw, scored two runs in the top of the sixth inning on the way to the 2-1 win.

Bailey, in seven innings, tossed a four-hitter and fanned two. She yielded an earned run and two walks. Bailey had a RBI to aid the cause.

Hannah Knight and Kendall Boone each had a hit and a stolen base. Knight tallied a run and Boone drove in a run. Daphne Honeycutt also scored a run for the Lady Jackets.

Lady Vols vex Crescent

Andrew Jackson, in a do-or-die situation, triumphed twice to claim the Class AA Upper State District I championship with 10-8 and 7-3 wins over Class AA power Crescent in Iva on Wednesday.

Crescent, 24-5, entered the game ranked No. 2 in the state.

Lauren Rowell, 7-6, earned the game one win and Hannah Cobb, 3-1, notched the victory in decisive game two. Cobb, an eighth-grader, also was 7 for 8 with five RBIs in two games.

“We knew game one was the key for us,” AJ coach Steve Middleton said. “We had to have that one. It was a tremendous team effort. The players and coaches responded. Everybody did their part. It was one of our better efforts at Andrew Jackson.”

The Lady Vols, behind Cobb, clinched the district title with a 7-3 win over the Lady Tigers.

AJ bolted to a 5-0 lead before Crescent rallied to make it 5-3, but Cobb delivered a crucial two-out, two-run double in the Lady Vols’ sixth to propel the AJ girls.

“Cobb’s double was a back-breaker because it gave us two key runs and a four-run cushion,” Middleton said. “We answered after they cut it to 5-3.”

Cobb, for the game, went 4-4, including two doubles, and drove in three runs.

She improved to 3-1 on the mound, scattering seven hits and a walk. Cobb fanned four.

Chelsea Holden drilled three hits, including two doubles, drove in a run and scored twice.

Ashley Williams had two hits, including a double, and drove in three runs. Haley Faulkenberry supplied two hits. Summer Truesdale had a hit and drove in a run. Abby Faulkenberry produced a hit and tallied a run.

In the opener, the Lady Vols needed nine innings to nail down the two-run win.

Taylor McGowan’s pinch-hit RBI-single gave AJ the lead at 6-5 in the top of the ninth.

Haley Faulkenberry, who had a hit and tallied a run, followed with a hit and Ashley Williams was hit by a pitch to load the bases.

Claire McManus, who had three hits and three RBIs, then laced a three-run triple to give AJ a 9-5 edge. Summer Truesdale, who had two hits and a RBI, then singled home Shelby Scott for a 10-5 edge.

Crescent came back to score three runs, but Lauren Rowell closed out the win.

Rowell, 7-6, allowed 12 hits and two walks. She fanned three and AJ committed one error.

Rowell pitched out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the eighth, getting two infield outs to quell the Lady Tigers’ rally.

“Lauren made two great pitches there,” Middleton said.

Kori Ballard boosted the AJ attack with three hits, including two doubles, and scored a run. Jamee Blackmon had two hits, drove in a run and scored a run. McGowan had a hit and a RBI.

Ashley Williams had a hit and scored a run. Chelsea Holden added a hit.

The sweep improved AJ to 17-13 overall.

The AJ win sends the Lady Vols to a 1 p.m. clash with Buford on Saturday in the Class AA Upper State title series.

“I hope the fans from both schools come out because both of these teams have worked hard to reach this point,” Middleton said. “Two of the four teams in the Upper State championship series are from our county and that speaks volumes.”

Lady Bruins fall

Third-ranked Boiling Springs eliminated Lancaster from the Class AAAA

Upper State playoffs, capturing the District I title with a 10-0 win in five innings.

The Lady Bulldogs, who defeated LHS 8-0 in second-round play, scored four runs in the first, a single run in the third and added five runs in the fourth to wrap up the victory and a berth in the Class AAAA Upstate finals.

Lancaster had only two hits, one each from Claire Brown and Pagan Glenn. Erin Walker took the loss.

“I’m proud of the girls to get this far,” LHS first-year coach Kim Perry said. “What we accomplished is something to build on.

“We want to build on the positives and work hard in the off-season to get better and become more athletic. We want to wish our seniors well and for our returning players to work hard in the off-season.”

Lancaster, 12-9, qualified for the Class AAAA playoffs as the runner-up in Region III-AAAA.