COLUMBUS -- In sports, there's often a very fine line between routine and superstition.
Buford girls softball coach Tony Wolfe hesitated when asked whether the Lady Wolves' run of six-straight state titles has had more to do with one than the other.
"I don't know if we're superstitious, but we always eat at the same Subway on the first day and we always go to Chili's," he said. "We also have the pillowcases that they all sign. It's just a routine that has worked well for us and I don't know why we need to change it."
The Lady Wolves will put their "routines" to the test once again when they open the semifinals of the Class AAA playoffs against Central-Carroll Thursday at the Olympic Softball Complex.
Buford is seeking an unprecedented seventh consecutive state title and Wolfe said part of what continues to drive the Lady Wolves is fear.
"Well, no one wants to be the class that sees the streak end," Wolfe said. "I really don't have to do much motivating. You can see it everyday in practice that they want to keep it going.
"But, the real reason we've had success it because we have great kids that work extremely hard. We just keep trying to build on what the earlier groups started."
Of course, the talent has to start with pitching and the same core that led them to the title last season is again minding the circle for the Lady Wolves this year.
Junior Bria Bush has won 14 games this season and fellow junior Tessa Daniels has added 10 victories on the season. Bush was the catalyst in last season's playoffs finishing the title run with three consecutive shutouts. Wolfe said little has changed.
"It always starts with pitching and we're fortunate to have two girls that can win anytime they have the ball," he said. "We feel we can win every time they go out there."
The offense may take a slight backseat to the junior hurlers, but senior Morgan Walters, who has 13 home runs on the season, set the tone in the quarterfinal sweep against Morgan County with three home runs and eight RBI in the two games.
Niki Cook, Remington Hasty, Jordan Deep, Noah Sudderth, and Daniels have given Walters plenty of protection and more than enough opportunities to drive in runs.
"We may not have quite the power punch of some of the earlier teams but they can all hit and do the little things like steal bases and move runners over that makes it a very balanced lineup," Wolfe said. "It's hard to pitch around anyone. Morgan has really stepped up lately."
For some, the monotony of having one powerhouse team after another might bring about some complacency. Not so for Wolfe and the Lady Wolves.
"Winning never gets old. Plus, it's a new team every year and to see the progression of the team from the first day of practice to the end of the season is fun to watch," Wolfe said. "They work really hard and deserve the success they've built for themselves. I just kind of get to sit back and watch them have fun. And that's fun for me."
The Buford-Central-Carroll winner will meet the Ringgold-Rockmart winner at 7:45 p.m. Thursday.
Class A: Commerce also will be making a Columbus appearance. The Lady Tigers will face Gordon Lee Thursday at 10:30 a.m. in the opening round of the Class A Public tournament Elite 8.
The winner of that game will take on the Hawkinsville-Schley County winner at 6 p.m. Thursday.