State softball tournament
South Commons Softball Complex,
Buford vs. Jeff Davis, noon
Union County vs. Pike County, noon
White County vs. Eastside, 3:30 p.m.
BUFORD — Most high school athletes are extremely fortunate to be members of a state championship team once during their high school careers. The majority of those who play sports during their last years of school do not even make the state playoffs, much less win the whole tournament.
Whitney Wolfe is not most high school athletes.
The second baseman is a member of the Buford High softball team; the three-time defending champion of Class AA. As a senior, this means Wolfe has won a state championship each year she has been in high school and as her dad and coach Tony Wolfe said, “It’s made her a little spoiled. I tell her that all the time.”
Going into Thursday’s match up with Jeff Davis (29-7, champion of Region 2-AA) in the quarterfinals of the state playoffs, the Lady Wolves have posted a total record of 120-17-2 during Whitney’s time as a member of the varsity squad.
Based on that alone, it is understandable that anything less than another state championship would be “heartbreaking” to Whitney.
“It would be really disappointing,” Whitney said. “I would just feel horrible.”
While her father agrees that the team would be disappointed, he doesn’t think that feeling would characterize how his players felt when they looked back on their playing days.
“I think that, after the disappointment fades, they’ll look back on the memories and friendships they’ve made, whether we win or lose, and be happy,” Tony said. “Of course, I’m hoping we win the whole thing and then not have to worry about any disappointment.”
While Whitney has played softball for most of her life, she has only played for her father since she has been in high school. Despite the fact that she is the coach’s daughter, Whitney said that she doesn’t receive favoritism.
“He treats me just like everyone else,” Whitney said. “And when it comes to, like, making decisions about me playing or hitting or telling me what I’m doing wrong, he lets the other coaches handle it.”
Tony credits his coaching staff with making the fact that his daughter is on the team a non-issue.
“I’ve got a really great group of coaches that I trust and that I relied on to tell me when Whitney was ready for this or that,” Tony said. “I wanted to avoid any favoritism and I think we’ve done that pretty well.”
Another thing that the Lady Wolves have done pretty well this season is win.
Sitting at 28-4 overall and winners of its third-straight Region 6-AA championship, Buford went into the postseason ranked No. 1 in Class AA and have shown no signs of slowing down.
The team swept the first two rounds of the playoffs, beating Dawson County (6-0, 10-1) and Dade County (12-3, 8-0) and head to Columbus on a 16-game win streak.
The Lady Wolves are led by the pitching duo of Karly Fullem (13-1) and Melissa Dickie (13-3). Fullem has compiled an earned run average of 0.77 in 15 starts this season and struck out a team-high 96 batters. Dickie has fared just as well, with an earned run average of 1.32 and 85 strikeouts. The two have combined to throw 25 complete games and 12 shutouts. So far in the playoffs, Dickie and Fullem are both 2-0 from the circle.
Offensively for Buford, Chelsie Thomas leads the team in batting average (.441, minimum 50 at-bats), hits (41) and runs scored (38). Thomas trails only Kallie Case in stolen bases — Thomas has 24 to Case’s 25 — and has added 11 RBIs this season.
The Lady Wolves continue their quest for a fourth-straight state championship at noon Thursday at the South Commons Softball Complex in Columbus. The game can be heard live online at www.wvohradio.com.
Other area teams beginning play in Columbus on Thursday include Union County and White County.
The Lady Panthers (28-2-1) swept their opening round series with Lovett (9-0, 8-0) and took two-of-three from Rockmart in the second round (1-3, 4-0, 9-1).
Champions of Region 8-AA, this is Union County’s second-straight trip to Columbus. The Lady Panthers will face Pike County (22-7, champion of Region 4-AA) at noon Thursday.
White County (26-6) is making its first trip to Columbus in school history after sweeping Carrollton (7-0, 24-0) and St. Pius X (6-4, 9-1) in the first two rounds.
The Lady Warriors are the No. 2 seed from Region 8-AAA and will face Eastside (20-15) at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.