What an exciting time it is for varsity softball players at Briarwood Academy.
The Lady Buccaneers captured the Georgia Independent Schools Association Class A Girls' State Championship last Saturday.
They defeated Oak Mountain Academy's Lady Warriors of Carrollton to win the title -- the school's first in the sport of softball. The Lady Buccaneers of head coach Hannah DeMore and assistant coaches Kelly Guy, Butch Stadler and Donnie DeMore, defeated the Lady Warriors in Game 1, 12-4 and in Game 2, 10-1 to win the championship.
"Wow, it's a great feeling," said coach Stadler, who like coach Guy, just completed their first year of helping coach the girls' varsity team at Briarwood Academy. "We've been playing softball since February. The only time we took off in between then and now was back in June when we took three weeks off. This is sweet, let me tell you. All the hard work that everybody put into this season was worth it to win a state championship."
The future looks bright for the Lady Buccaneers in softball for at least four more years.
"We're already thinking about reloading for next year," said first base coach Stadler, noting that several of the players are young and that the team graduates only three players, Emily Henderson, Savannah Carani and Maria Celeste Johnson.
Coach Guy, who like coach Stadler has a daughter that plays on the team, agreed.
"This is big time," said coach Guy, who coached third base. "It liked to have killed them when they didn't win it last year."
The Lady Buccaneers had to settle for runners-up a year ago.
"We never started out strong this season, but we sure ended on a strong note," said coach Guy. "That's what we wanted to do was finish strong."
Coach Donnie DeMore assisted his wife, Hannah when he could and joined the team during the playoffs.
"It was a great season," he said. "I'll never forget it. It's one for the memory books."
For Maria Celeste Johnson, winning the state championship was unforgettable.
"It feels wonderful," said Johnson. "Nothing I've done in softball is comparable to winning a state championship. It's super. I'll remember this for a lifetime."
Johnson, the team's senior third baseman said confidence was a motivating factor that helped the team reached the top of their game.
"We came out and hit the ball well and fielded well," said Johnson. "We clearly knew we could do this."
Emily Henderson, the team's senior centerfielder, said, "This is awesome. I'm so happy for all of us. We went out there not being over-confident and played softball the way we know how. I'm estatic."
For Savannh Carani, the team's senior first baseman most of the season, winning the state title was bittersweet.
"It's bittersweet in that this is my last year," said Carani. "What we did, we did as a team and that's the great part of it all. This was the year we all stuck together. We knew what we wanted and we went out there and got it."
Kris Dawson, the second baseman, who was one of the stars in the championship series, said, "I can't wait to try to do it again next year."
Maegan Bentley, the junior pitcher, said, "This was a lifelong dream for me. I always wanted to play in a state championship series and experience what it would be like to win a title."
Tiffany Pate, a freshman, who played well all season, especially during the playoffs, said, "It's amazing. Being state champs is much better than being runners-up."
Senior third baseman Maria Celeste Johnson proudly takes the state championship trophy to her teammates.