Buford High won its ninth consecutive softball state championship Saturday with a 6-4 victory against Walnut Grove in the Class AAAA tournament in Columbus.
“I don’t think any coach ever dreams of winning nine titles, certainly not nine in a row,” said Lady Wolves coach Tony Wolfe. “There’s not a person alive that deserves the blessings we’ve had. We had a senior class who refused to do anything but come down here and win.”
Wolfe eluded to the senior class earlier in the playoffs when he said they were looking to get back to Columbus for a fourth season.
Not only did they achieve that feat, but they never lost a game in Columbus in that four-year span.
“In the best we can figure out, our senior class just went 16-0 in Columbus in four years. That’s an unbelievably difficult achievement,” Wolfe said. “It’s hard to believe a group of kids could get to Columbus four years in a row, but to do it and go 16-0 is more than you can hope for.”
The win didn’t only mean nine straight titles, it marked the most state championships for a program in the state.
Coming into the final, the Lady Wolves were tied with Oconee County at eight.
Buford was able to single home a run in the first inning Saturday as Samantha Thomas collected the hit and Baylee Sexton scored the run.
A wild pitch in the bottom of the first allowed Walnut Grove to tie the game, but a two-run home run from Drew Puckett in the top of the third put the Lady Wolves back on top 3-1 in the third inning.
Buford tacked on another two runs in the top of the fifth inning with a double from Kelsey Bennett. Gabby Benson and Breanna Gutierrez scored on the hit.
In the bottom of the frame, Walnut Grove picked up a one-out walk and single.
Both runners scored immediately on a first-pitch, three-run home run. The shot made the game a 5-4 contest.
In the top of the sixth, Sexton gave her team a little breathing room.
She was able to reach on a single and immediately stole second. Biz Walters moved Sexton to third, before Puckett singled her home.
Buford pitcher Logan Caymol came in with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning and retired all but one of the eight batters she saw to pick up the save.
Starter Kennedy Katula (6-4) got the win for the Lady Wolves. She picked up three of the four wins of the weekend for Buford.
Puckett finished the game 2 for 4 with a home run, three RBIs and a run scored.
Sexton was 4 for 4 with a double, two runs scored and two stolen bases.
Bennett finished with two RBIs. Thomas also had an RBI and a run scored.
Wolfe said he was surprised when the Lady Wolves completed the state title run.
“Just the joy of knowing we won again was a surprise to me,” he said. “Kind of like when the Braves won all those division titles, it was like ‘Whew, we did it.’”
Even with the 2015 state championship fresh in their minds, Wolfe said there’s already talk of next year.
“It starts every year before we get out of the park with people wanting to start talking about next season,” Wolfe said. “We’ll worry about 2016 at some point in time. We like the group of kids we’ll go into that year with, but right now we’ll celebrate this.”