Emily Crocker’s love for softball began at the age of 4. She was watching her brother’s baseball team and saw girls playing.
That made her realize she could use a glove and bat, too.
From there, Crocker started playing recreation league softball and has been on a diamond ever since. The Buford senior registered a milestone accomplishment last Thursday, tossing a perfect game in a 10-0 five-inning Region 8-AAAA win against Monroe Area.
Lady Wolves’ coach Tony Wolfe said Crocker’s selfless nature is one of her defining features as a leader. Naturally, that mentality was on display as she struck out five of the 15 batters she faced in the perfect game.
“I wasn’t thinking about it too much,” Crocker said. “Honestly, I didn’t even know I had one going into the last inning. I just knew that my defense had my back.”
Crocker noted a couple of defensive plays by Drew Puckett, some well played bunts by Baylee Sexton and Remington Hasty tracking down a fly ball to the outfield for the final out.
Crocker was 9-0 with one save, a 0.77 ERA, 31 strikeouts and eight walks in 36 1/3 innings in 2013. This year, she’s 3-0 with a save, a 1.43 ERA, 14 strikeouts and five walks in 14 2/3 innings.
Wolfe said Crocker has embraced her chance to contribute in spot starts and key relief appearances.
“She’s always ready. And she’s always very competitive,” Wolfe said. “Whatever role we ask her to be in that particular night, she’s ready. She’s just a quality kid and unselfish. ‘What can I do for the team?’”
Crocker thrives on being the one to start every play when she’s in the circle.
“I just try to get ahead in the count,” Crocker said. “That’s always important, try to limit the walks. I’m not going to blow anybody away, but if my movement is on point, it’ll be good.”
While Crocker’s ability to stand out in limited opportunities is impressive, Wolfe said her impact on the team runs much deeper than that.
“She is definitely somebody that’s always put the team ahead of her own individual goals and aspirations,” Wolfe said.
“She’s beloved because of it. She is as friendly and as caring as anybody in our program, and the girls feed off her unselfishness and her caring for them.”
Another way Crocker gives back is working as an assistant coach with Buford’s middle school program. Twice a week, she has her varsity practice, then helps with the middle school practices. Then, she coaches four games every Sunday.
Crocker said the friendships she’s made in softball have made the sport enjoyable and that softball has “always been a part of my life.” She has been a part of three state championship teams, as the program has won seven in a row.
But the memories are about more than coming out ahead on the scoreboard. She said she and her Buford teammates “just like to goof off and have a good time.”
“It’s been a blessing coming to Buford and being a part of this family,” Crocker said. “I know that they’re always here for me, and I’ll always be there for them.”
That connection is also evident with Wolfe.
“He loves us all like his own children, and he takes care of us all the time,” Crocker said. “And he’s a great coach.”
He was a proud coach watching Crocker in her element against Monroe Area. His senior pitcher who is OK with being outside the spotlight was having her night.
“The game she threw last Thursday was so exciting to see her have such success and have that moment where it was really all about her,” Wolfe said. “She had great command that night, just in total control all night. It was fun to watch.”