The Briarwood Academy Lady Buccaneers are establishing a reputation. They are fast-becoming one of the most elite girls' fast-pitch softball teams in the Georgia Independent Schools Association Region 1-A.
Previous years have seen Briarwood compete in Class AA, but because of a decline in school enrollment, they dropped down to a Class A school this year.
And last week, the Lady Bucs were ranked as No. 1 in the state.
The team's current ranking has Briarwood Head Coach Hannah DeMore as excited as her players.
"This is really no surprise, because we have worked hard and played well to earn this honor," said Coach DeMore, who is in her second year at Briarwood Academy.
Working hard has become the team's motto, she said during an interview last week.
"Some days, we practice as long as three hours - even longer than the football team," said Coach DeMore with a big smile.
She coaches softball the way she was taught to play the game by former Briarwood Coach Robert Waller. "He always taught us to practice, practice, practice - that practice makes perfect. I believed that when I played for him and I still believe that now."
Coach DeMore has her players believing that, too.
And as a result, they find themselves the envy of their new league.
"I'm proud to say that I have a really, really good softball team," said Coach DeMore. "They understand the basics of softball real well."
Another reason for the success that the Lady Bucs have enjoyed thus far this season has to do with the fact that they are such a versatile group, added Coach DeMore.
The team is led by its two seniors, Sarah Nutial and Hollis Wells. Wells transferred to Briarwood Academy from Evans High School in Columbia County this year.
Nutial is one of two starting pitchers for the Lady Bucs. The other pitcher is Gerry Hall, one of eight juniors on the team.
The Lady Bucs sported a 6-2 overall record and 1-1 region record going into Tuesday's game against Curtis Baptist in Augusta. The team will play again today (Thursday), playing host to Nathaniel Greene Academy from Siloam at 4:30 p.m.
"The girls jell real well together and they constantly pick each other up when one of them gets down," said Coach DeMore, who teaches upper-level math and AP calculus. "I think that's one of the things that make this team so special."
Another added edge is their team spirit and desire to perform well every game.
"This team is as good as they are simply because they work hard at being the best they can be," said Coach DeMore. "I won't accept anything less than that from them and they know it."