The Buford Lady Wolves completed the "Dream Season" with an 8-1 victory over Berrien County to win the Class AA State Fastpitch Softball Championship. Buford reached the finals with hard fought wins over Savannah Christian 3-2, Rutland 1-0 and GACS 4-0 in 8 innings. In the State Championship game, Buford went back to their old style of play, scoring early and often to take a surprisingly easy 8-1 win over the determined Berrien squad. Berrien fought back from the loser's bracket to avenge an earlier 7-0 loss to GACS, defeating the Lady Spartans in the 3rd place game earlier on Saturday morning.
Melissa Higginbotham, a senior and 4 year starter picked up the win for the Lady Wolves, blanking Berrien for the first 5 innings while the Lady Wolves offense exploded for 7 runs in the 4th inning to take a commanding lead that Higginbotham would not give up. Higginbotham moved to 18-3 on the season, firing a complete game, striking out 7 and allowing 1 unearned run on 7 hits.
Buford scored a solo run in the 3rd, when Higginbotham singled to lead off the inning. Whitney Holman's sac bunt moved Higgs to second and 1 out later Ashley Razey singled to center to score Higginbotham and give Buford a 1-0 lead.
The Lady Wolves went to work again in the 4th, blowing the game wide open with a 7 run inning. Nicole Bell, Brandi Hellemn each singled with Shelbi Valek on to load the bases and set the stage for Higginbotham. The senior pitcher then drilled a ball to the fence in left for a bases clearing double and a 4-0 lead. Ashley Razey doubled with 2 outs and 2 on to give Buford a 6-0 lead and Alysha Rudnik singled to score courtesy runner Whitney Wolfe to make it 7-0. Shelbi Valek continued the hit parade with a single to right to score Rudnik and make the score 8-0 Buford. Jennifer Tucker added a single but Berrien was finally able to end the inning when Nicole Bell flied to center. The Lady Wolves threatened again in the 5th, loading the bases with 1 out but failed to score.
Whitney Holman went 1-3, Ashley Razey went 3-4 with 3 RBI's, Alysha Rudnik went 1-4 with a RBI, Shelbi Valek went 1-4 with a RBI, Jennifer Tucker went 1-2 with 2 walks, Nicole Bell went 1-4, Brandi Hellemn went 2-4 and Melissa Higginbotham went 3-3 with 3 RBI's.
4 Seniors playing their last game at Buford High School, led the celebration following the game: Higginbotham, Razey, Bell and Tucker have been part of 2 State 3rd place finishes prior to capturing the State Title this season. The Lady Wolves finish the season with a 33-6-1 record, breaking the school record for wins (31 in 2005).
TEAM 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Berrien 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 7 2
Buford 0 0 1 7 0 0 8 13 2
Higginbotham and Razey
2B: Higginbotham, Razey