LOCUST GROVE, Ga. — When Chris Davis got the nod to be the originator of the Locust Grove softball program, the number 300 wasn’t anywhere on his radar.
We’re talking 300 career coaching wins, of course. Yet on Monday when Davis’ Wildcats scored a 17-0 win over Dutchtown, that’s exactly where he found himself. After the game, he broke the news to his team, and they expressed just as much shock as pride.
“I never told my girls about it, because I didn’t want them to be thinking of it,” Davis said. “In fact, I told them that I’ve hesitated to let them know, but also that they were the ones who truly made it happen. But of course once they found out, they clapped and cheered and I shared with them my appreciation. I really do have a great group of girls, and I think they were genuinely appreciative of what had happened.”
Davis sure is. Although he didn’t personally keep tabs on how close he was to the milestone until someone from another school reaching a similar milestone triggered the question of just how many wins Davis had accumulated in his 12-year tenure which includes three straight state championships.
“Literally, for that reason, I sat and counted up the wins,” he said. “I knew the Dutchtown game had the potential to be it. But you never want to count it until it’s there.”
Since that game, Locust Grove added two more to Davis’ total, as the Wildcats bested Woodland 12-0, 9-1, respectively in a Tuesday doubleheader. Locust Grove (20-4-1, 18-1 in Region 4-AAAAA) has two more games left on the regular season slate—Monday at in-county rival Union Grove (13-8, 10-7 in Region 4-AAAAA)) and Thursday at home against Class 7A squad Newton (16-8).
Not one to rest too long on laurels, the coach did give himself some moments to count his blessings during his time as Locust Grove’s only program leader.
“From a softball perspective, it’s helped to have some really good players and coaches here the whole time,” he said. “That makes it more enjoyable and it makes you want to stick around. And honestly, I’ve had some fantastic kids and parents. I can honestly say I haven’t had to deal much with the parental issues and some of those horror stories you hear from other programs.
“When you have that, a coaching staff that’s been around for the five or six years and then you have girls who not only want to be coached, but are legitimately talented girls, it just makes for a great, enjoyable experience.”
Still, Locust Grove’s current embarrassment of riches—and this season’s pursuit of a fourth straight state crown— is beyond anything the coach had in mind when he first came over from Salem High in 2008.
“Oh, not a chance did I start off thinking we’d have what we have now,” he said. “Or, at least that’s not what you’re thinking at the time. You just hope you can go out and be competitive each game, and you just hope that at the end of the year you can say that you’ve given all you had and gotten the most out of our players.”
One thing is certain: Davis has always wanted to build a program firmly imprinted with his signature.
“I did dream about having a program that truly becomes my program,” he said. “So when I had the chance to come here and help open up a school, it was enticing to have the chance to coach a program where I could truly put my stamp on it.”
He’s done that and then some as Locust Grove is, once again, poised for another state title run. But in the backdrop of his mind, the 42-year old Davis knows that eventually all good things must come to an end, including his stint as head coach. But don’t mark down a departure date for him just yet.
“I don’t know when that would be,” he said. “But I’ll tell you this: When the end of each year comes, I’m exhausted and I’m ready to get away from the game for a while. But when spring comes back around, I’m ready to get back at it and go again. So as long as I’m still getting that feeling and that desire for the game, I’m going to be around.”