By Josh Strope
The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register
Two-time state champion Buffalo was well-represented on the Class A All-State softball first team, with four players making the list selected by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
Freshman Ali Burdette had an impressive first season with a .541 batting average, 10 doubles, three triples, 32 RBIs and 34 runs. Sophomore infielder Chelsey Parkins chipped in with .460 average, seven doubles, three triples, 24 RBIs and 32 runs.
Catcher Casey Cunningham was the senior leader, batting .472 with nine doubles, two triples, and 33 RBIs. Outfielder Katie Higginbotham, also a sophomore, had a .458 average with six doubles, four triples, 16 RBI, and 42 runs.
Elsewhere Tara Paczewski of Cameron became a four-time first-teamer, and was named captain.
The senior has been a four-year starter with the Dragons, leading them to a berth in the 2009 state tournament and winning three Ohio Valley Athletic Conference championships.
Paczewski has been so dominant at times, it's easy to see why opposing coaches are jumping for joy that she graduated.
"She is a four-time all-stater and that is such a rare accomplishment," said coach Mark Witzberger. "Anyone that has achieved that is definitely deserving of being a captain."
She is the first four-time all-stater and Class A captain in school history.
Paczewski (15-6) hurled two perfect games in 2012 and an error kept her from a third. She had three no-hitters to go along with two one-hitters.
Despite a loaded schedule that saw the Dragons face AAA and AA opponents, Paczewski struck out 135 batters with 25 walks, the best strikeout-to-walk ratio of her career. She also boasted a 1.23 earned run average.
She also became more comfortable at the plate. She led the Dragons with a .481 batting average and set a school record with 13 doubles. She added 39 hits with 26 RBI and a .533 on-base percentage. She scored 33 runs with a two homers and a triple.
The Dragons weren't all Paczewski, as evidenced by teammate and fellow all-stater Cassidi Richmond. The senior shortstop batted .451 with six home runs, 11 doubles, and 31 RBIs from the leadoff position. She set school records with 44 runs and 46 hits and only struck out three times in 102 at-bats.
Moorefield was runner-up and placed three on the first team: pitcher Danica Rogers (10-1, 1.49 ERA, 90 strikeouts), infielder Beth Cook (.570, three HR, 18 doubles, 27 RBIs, 33 runs), and outfielder Kelsey Hines (.451, four home runs, seven triples, eight doubles, 45 RBIs, 28 runs).
Joining Paczewski and Rogers at pitcher is Wheeling Central's Brittany Miller (15-2, 1.22 ERA, 106 K), Pendleton County's Codi Evick (129 K, 1.94 ERA) and St. Marys' Mandy Cokeley (.71 ERA).
Infielders are Richmond, Cook, Parkins, St. Marys' Abby Fetty (.633, three HR, 29 RBIs, nine doubles, four triples, 20 stolen bases) and Doddridge County's Lacy Perkins (.511, 13 doubles, two triples, 41 RBIs, 41 runs).
Hines, Higginbotham and St. Marys' Kristin "Boogie" Grose (.467, 20 RBIs, four triples, 29 stolen bases) round out the outfielders.
Jessica Puddister (.526, four triples, 17 RBIs, 16 runs, 98 K) of South Harrison and Morgan Wheeler (240 K, .389, three HR) of Fayetteville join Burdette as utility.
Ashlie LaFalace (.469, five HR, 10 doubles, two triples, 41 RBI, 29 runs) of Doddridge joins Cunningham at catcher.
For full list, see Page 2B.