Bria Bush is a rare blend of elite talent and humility.
She’s leaving high school as the best pitcher to ever grace the circle for Buford High, according to her coach, Tony Wolfe.
Bush, a signee with the University of Tennessee, knows her main weapon is the ability to locate pitches with unbelievable precision. And on the rare occasion she makes a mistake, Bush isn’t going to dwell on making a bad pitch.
“Bria’s got incredible poise,” said Wolfe, who guided Buford to its state-record eighth straight state title in 2014. “She doesn’t get shaken when she’s in the pitching circle.”
As a senior, Bush went 19-0 with 16 complete games, six shutouts and a 0.74 ERA. For her efforts, Bush is The Times’ Softball Pitcher of the Year.
At a school that turns out star pitchers almost every year, Bush leaves a unique stamp on the Lady Wolves’ record book. Her school records include most postseason victories (32), winning percentage (91), postseason winning percentage (97) and career shutouts (29). In appearances at the state championship weekend in Columbus each October, she compiled a 13-0 record.
Her performance from year to year didn’t deviate. Bush won a school-record 22 games as a sophomore, followed by 18 as a junior. Wolfe was confident in Bush’s pitching ability from the time she stepped into high school.
Her first career start was right off the bat as a freshman, against the defending Class A state champion Gordon Lee, at Kennesaw State. She was strong all game in a 2-1 loss.
In 2011, Bush was plugged right into the Buford pitching rotation and won 12 of 17 starts.
“She just continued to get better as she went along,” said Wolfe.
Bush has one strict focus when she’s in the circle: pitch location. Throwing fast is nice, but she knows the ball can end up over the fence if it’s not located properly.
The biggest influence, she said, in developing as a great pitcher is her father, Derek Bush. Her dad has always cultivated her talent through demanding excellence in locating pitches.
Wolfe said that Bush has a great ability to mix up her pitches to keep hitters guessing.
Bush said she tries hybrid pitches, where she simply tweaks a motion to make pitches look different.
“I’m always focused on hitting my spots, changing my speeds,” said Bush. “To me, speed in throwing the ball isn’t the most important thing.
“Girls can hit you if you just have speed.”
Even after a mistake, Bush could come out on top. This season, she gave up a lead-off home run to Class AAAAAA’s Lassiter. Buford came back to tie the game, before Jordan Deep provided a game-winning home run in the seventh. Then in Columbus, Bush gave up a lead-off homer against Thomas County Central in the winners’ bracket of the state finals. That home run didn’t shake her confidence either.
“After that, she just mowed through them,” said Wolfe.
Bush maintains a mature approach to giving up the unwanted home runs. No matter the outcome of a pitch, she’s always looking forward to the next throw she has to make.
“I don’t want to give up any home runs, but it happens,” said Bush, who allowed 71 hits in 114 innings pitching in 2014. “I know if our team didn’t score any runs, we weren’t going to win anyway.
“I always trust my teammates who are hitting behind me. It’s a team effort.”