Keith Quaid knows what it's like to win two consecutive titles — and he knows which one is more difficult to win.
The Kiowa fast-pitch softball coach led his team to a perfect record last year on the way to the program's first-ever championship. After Kiowa repeated as state champions this year, Quaid said he had a quick response when people ask if it was more difficult winning the first or second title.
"The second time — hands down," Quaid said.
"The target's on your back and the girls felt pressure, I felt pressure, the pressure that we put on ourselves was the driving point to get better every day because we knew teams were out to try to get us," he added.
Quaid said the team discussed goals heading into last season — but this year's team didn't talk much about goals.
"Everybody knew what the goal was — and that was to win it again," Quaid said.
Kiowa entered the postseason this year with four losses, but went on to sweep Tupelo in the district round and pummeled Class B-No. 17 Varnum and Maysville in the regional tournament.
The Cowgirls then blasted ninth-ranked Hammon, escaped against fourth-ranked Vici, and took a 6-1 win against sixth-ranked Whitesboro in the state tournament to clinch the repeat.
What has made the Cowgirls so successful?
"They have that inner desire to want to be the best," Quaid said. "And they've been the best two years in a row so that desire has really paid off.
He said the players also showed their character after the state semifinals when sophomore Chloe Crawley's brother died.
Quaid said the team rallied to support their teammate and her family.
"They stood by that young lady and they consoled her and they wanted her to know that her family was in their prayers," Quaid said.
Quaid said the Cowgirls had some lulls during summer scrimmages, but continued working hard in practice
Kiowa will graduate five seniors — including Karlie McCormick, Rachel Eggleston and Cadence Howard. Quaid said the seniors are irreplaceable, but knows Kiowa will return with a lot of talent next season.
"We're always going to remember them, but we still have a good core group that will be coming back," Quaid said. "We're going to have some really good, talented players, but we're going to have some spots for our younger players to fill."