BUFORD — It was Kennedy Kotula’s night Wednesday in the second round of the Class AAAA state playoffs. The Buford senior pitcher was playing her last games at home, and they were memorable.
Kotula pitched a complete-game shutout, her first shutout of the season, in a 1-0 Game 2 victory over Thomas County Central to send the Lady Wolves to Columbus as they advance in the state tournament, following a 3-0 victory in the first game.
“I was really nervous excited,” Kotula said. “It was my last home game as a senior, and I just wanted to pitch my best for my teammates to get us down to Columbus again.”
Not only did Kotula pitch a shutout, but she also drove in the only run of the clincher, scoring Samantha Thomas on a fourth-inning single.
“It felt pretty great because I was helping myself out,” Kotula said.
Kotula (3-4) threw her third complete game of the season. She gave up four hits with six strikeouts and a walk.
In Game 1, Buford sophomore Logan Caymol pitched a complete game shutout of her own. It was Caymol’s second shutout and fourth complete game of the season. Caymol (7-1) gave up three hits with five strikeouts and a walk.
“I was really confident,” Caymol said. “My defense always has my back, so I always trust in them.”
Caymol had to rely on her defense early in Game 1. Thomas County Central was able to get the lead runner on in 3 of the first 4 innings.
“Logan got out of some jams in the first game early,” Buford coach Tony Wolfe said. “I think she settled in and was really in command the last three innings.”
The Lady Wolves started Game 1 strong, scoring two runs in the first on hits by Thomas and senior Drew Puckett. The game went scoreless after that as both Caymol and Thomas County Central pitcher Larran Carter, who pitched both games for the Lady Yellow Jackets, were on their game. Buford senior Breanna Gutierrez drove in an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth.
“I can’t say enough about our defense,” Wolfe said. “I thought we played really good behind both (Caymol and Kotula) all day.
“You have to play defense, and I thought our kids did that really well, but it starts in the circle and both of those kids pitched well.”
Buford (26-6) travels to Columbus to play in the state tournament next Thursday. Its next opponent is still to be determined.