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BUFORD – The Central Lady Eagles’ 2011 Friday 13th was about monster wins.
The CHS girls came up big Friday as they swept two wins from Buford – 12-2 and 8-2 – to capture the Class AA Upper State softball championship and a bid to the state title series against Barnwell next week.
The Lady Eagles, 30-3, faced a tall order entering the Class AA Upstate finals, needing two wins over host Buford, which was unbeaten in the Upstate title series.
CHS started strong in the do-or-die opener, bolting to a 10-1 lead after two innings on the way to the 10-run victory.
“We knew that first game was important,” CHS coach Kevin Thurman said. “We got on them early and established the momentum.”
The Lady Eagles, behind ace hurler Katie Carnes, rolled as they laced 15 hits on the way to the opening win.
That set the stage for the winner-take-all nightcap, and Central ruled the night.
Buford, 23-9, broke on top in the second game as the Lady Jackets scored in the second inning for a 1-0 lead.
BHS’s Erica Blackmon, who had reached on a one-out single, later dashed home on a fielder’s choice.
Then, BHS hurler Carley Bailey took over and held Central scoreless to the fifth inning when it ignited for eight key runs.
“We told our girls to keep the game close and we would be able to break through,” Thurman said.
The Eagles ignited in the fifth when they scored eight runs, seven after two out.
Candice Wright, who had a hit and drove in two runs, scored on a bases-loaded wild pitch after she reached on an infield single.
“Once we tied it up and broke the ice, we were able to break through,” Thurman said.
Emily Kennington, with the bases loaded, was hit by a pitch to force home a run for a 2-1 lead. Carnes then delivered a two-run single for a 4-1 lead. Ty Ellis extended the BHS edge to 5-1 with a run-scoring hit.
Wright then delivered a two-run single for a 7-1 CHS advantage. The Lady Eagles added another run on an error to take a commanding 8-1 lead.
“Hat’s off to Central,” Buford coach “C” Davis said. “They did what they had to do. They had to set the tone and they did. Central has the sticks.”
Buford was able to scratch back for a run in the seventh as Kayla Lloyd doubled home a run to make it 8-2, but the Lady Eagles closed out the Upstate-title clinching win behind Carnes, who improved to 26-2.
She fanned six and allowed five hits and hit a batter. Carnes delivered at the plate with two singles and three RBIs. Wright had a hit and drove in two runs. Ashley Chambers added a hit and RBI. Destinee Funderburk had a hit and tallied a run.
BHS’s Carley Bailey, who worked 5.1 innings, allowed four hits, three walks and eight runs – six earned to take the loss.
Lloyd led the BHS cause with two hits and drove in a run. Mikayla Hannah had a double and Blackmon had a hit and scored a run. Bailey added a hit.
In the opener, Central took command off the bat, building a 10-1 lead after two innings.
Ty Ellis’ two-run home run in the Central first sparked the Lady Eagles, who drilled 15 hits in the opener, to an early 3-0 lead. An inning later, the Lady Eagles soared to take a 10-1 advantage with a seven-run second.
Wright supplied the big hit of the inning, drilling a three-run triple.
Carnes again was the catalyst, allowing six hits and no walks. She struck out six. At the plate, she reached four times – a home run, single and a pair of walks.
Funderburk had three hits, while Wright added two singles and a triple. Ashley Chambers collected a double and a pair of hits.
Buford’s Ashley Lloyd and Mikayla Hannah each had a hit and drove in a run. Kendall Boone banged a double. Hannah Knight, Carson Mehaffey and Courtney Ackerman each added a hit.
“I knew we had to add to that one run in game two,” Davis said. “This team plays with a lot of heart and they get along.
“They’ve come a long way this season,” she said. “It’s been a team effort all season. We have a great group of girls and fans. There’s no place like Buford.
“We lose four seniors, but at the same time we have a good group coming back,” Davis said. “We gained a lot of experience and we’re looking forward to next season.”
Thurman said the Eagles completed a tough task.
“We were fortunate to beat them,” he said. “We beat a good team and it shows the strength of our region that two teams were battling for the Upper State title. I’ve said it since early in the season. We didn’t have to go far to find good competition.”