COLUMBUS — The faces may change for the Buford softball team, but the end result remains the same.
Buford extended its record state championship streak by winning a seventh consecutive crown on Saturday, shutting out Central-Carroll, 4-0, in the Class AAA title game at the Columbus Softball Complex.
The victory capped an incredible season, even by the Lady Wolves’ standards. Buford finished the 2013 campaign 37-1 — the best record in program history.
“It doesn’t ever get old,” said Buford head coach Tony Wolfe, whose team started its run of state titles all the way back in 2007. “Each year, there’s a different group of kids and you want it for the seniors. To see them lead a team to a state championship is really special and for them to go out as state champs is special, too. It’s just amazing how the pressure builds, though, with each title.”
Buford used its speed to produce a run in the top of the first inning and the Lady Wolves never looked back, as their defense and the pitching of Bria Bush made sure the single run would be enough. Bush threw a four-hitter with no strikeouts, but no walks, either.
“It may have been the most dominant pitching performance I’ve ever seen to not have any strikeouts,” Wolfe said. “Our defense just did everything and made all the plays behind her.”
Bush earned all four of Buford’s wins in Columbus and finished the season with a stellar 18-1 record in the circle.
The Lady Wolves pushed their lead to 2-0 in the second with a solo homer and added another homer in the sixth to make it 3-0. In the seventh, Buford went back to its speed to manufacture another run to go up 4-0 and close out the scoring.
“This is one of the most balanced teams we’ve had in a long time,” Wolfe said. “There’s power, speed, pitching and defense and all four aspects of the game helped us win games (in the state tournament). The key to winning (in Columbus at the state tournament) is to be well-rounded in all areas of the game. If you rely too much on one area, you’re going to run into trouble eventually. That’s why we were able to win, because we’re a balanced team.”
Morgan Walters and Remington Hasty each bashed solo homers for Buford, Drew Puckett had a double and Niki Cook had a hit and an RBI as the Lady Wolves efficiently used all the hits they got to produce their four runs.
Buford, whose only loss came Sept. 7 at the hands of Class AAAAAA power Collins Hill, finished its season with 25 straight wins while fielding a relatively inexperienced squad that Wolfe said is among the best he’s had since he’s been the Lady Wolves’ head coach.
“For sure, it’s one of the youngest teams I’ve had,” said Wolfe. “We only started three seniors this year.
“Certainly when you look at the stats, this is one of the most talented teams I’ve had. We’re going to set team records in batting average, homers and stolen bases as well.
“This team recorded the most wins in school history, but also the fewest losses, too.”