Buford softball coach Tony Wolfe brings an interesting perspective to the field.
The influence for his coaching style may be different than most people would think.
Oddly enough, it isn’t his role as a baseball coach, which he’s held at Buford for 12 seasons, that serves as the biggest influence.
His style of coaching softball is a direct result of his years as a football coach.
Wolfe served as an assistant for Buford as a running backs coach for 10 seasons.
"I try to coach the intangibles, confidence and try to keep a good atmosphere," Wolfe said. "We have such a good chemistry with this program."
It’s quite a contrast carrying over a football coaching approach to the softball field. But it’s one that seems to work for Wolfe’s Lady Wolves.
Buford (34-2-1) recently completed the daunting task of carrying a No. 1 state ranking in Class AA from first game to last, and won its second consecutive state title, with a 5-1 win against Calhoun on Oct. 25 at the South Commons Softball Complex in Columbus. For his efforts, Wolfe is the Times’ Area Softball Coach of the Year.
That gives Wolfe a state title in each of his seasons coaching the Lady Wolves softball program.
"We’ve definitely had some good players around here," Wolfe said. "Probably more than our fair share."
Buford’s coach positioned his role based off of what he learned coaching under former Buford football coach and current athletics director, Dexter Wood.
Wolfe learned to treat his role as an administrator of the program in his first experience coaching a girl’s program.
"Coach Wood’s example is a great model for coaching to be able to follow," Wolfe said.
Wolfe says that his role of coach isn’t that of a one-man operation. He considers it more of a four-person team.
Wolfe has the luxury of three assistant coaches — Ronnie Samples, Trent Adams and Casey Laws — to held keep the continuity in the entire Lady Wolves softball program.
Wolfe’s approach is to practice the junior varsity and varsity together, and let the position coaches work with their specialty.
Adams works with pitchers and defense, Laws works with hitting and catchers, and Samples coaches the outfielders. All four work together to keep the program in sync.
"I think I get way too much credit for what happens, and those guys don’t get nearly enough," Wolfe said. "My assistant coaches do an outstanding job."
Wolfe’s unique coaching philosophy was enough to help win the 2008 state title, despite losing five starters from the 2007 state championship team. The Lady Wolves only had two everyday returning starters from last year’s squad.
The exciting news for the Buford program is that most of the talent from this year’s team will return in 2009.
Sophomore pitcher Melissa Dickie (16-1, 0.52 ERA), junior infielder/catcher Alysha Rudnik (.485, 32 RBI, 33 runs), sophomore pitcher/infielder Karly Fullem (16-1 record, 0.95 ERA, 121 strikeouts), and freshman outfielder/infielder Lexi Overstreet (.422, 24 RBI, 16 runs scored) will all be back to try and make it three-in-a-row next season.