COLUMBUS — It had done it the last four years, but the way Buford won its fifth consecutive state title was different.
“We talked last night that this could become one of the defining parts of our program because of how we were going to have to do it,” said head coach Tony Wolfe, who has brought Buford a state title in each year of his tenure.
Buford (34-11) won three games Saturday in the Class AA state softball tournament, including two over Pike County in the finals, to claim its fifth consecutive title. It was certainly unfamiliar territory for the Lady Wolves as they had grown accustomed to playing the entire tournament out of the winner’s bracket.
Buford came into the Elite Eight 16-1 in Columbus under Wolfe. They fell to Pike County, 3-2, Friday night to fall into the loser’s bracket before beating Blessed Trinity Saturday, 9-1, and getting redemption on Pike County, winning twice, 11-10 and 12-2, in the finals.
“That was the most intense game I’ve ever played in,” Alabama-commit Kallie Case said in reference to the first game with Pike, where the Lady Wolves battled back twice from five-run deficits. “We just took all the excitement and put it into our swings today.”
The long ball was the story for Buford Saturday, as the Lady Wolves hit 12 total home runs. Case accounted for four of those, including two — a solo and a two-run homer — in the final game against Pike.
Freshman Tessa Daniels picked up the win in the pitcher’s circle for Buford in the final and relieved fellow freshman Bria Bush in the first game with the Lady Pirates.
“This feeling is just indescribable,” Daniels said of winning her first state title.
Buford had two freshmen on its pitching staff in 2007 that threw in Columbus, but never in the championship game.
That is, until now.
“The question was if we could win with two freshmen in the circle and the fact of the matter is that their poise and their ability is certainly beyond their years,” Wolfe said of Daniels and Bush, who started nearly every game this year for the Lady Wolves.
Along with Case’s performance, University of Tennessee-commit Lexi Overstreet had a big tournament as well, hitting five total homers and three in the final three games on Saturday.
Six different players homered on the day for Buford.
“I knew we hit a bunch this year, but never like we swung the bats today,” Wolfe said of the home run output of his team. “I thought we cut a break with the field we drew with the way the wind was blowing, and we took advantage of that with the first few, but then we just hit some tape-measure shots.”