BUFFALO, W.Va. — Class A Buffalo (26-7) came to dominate the Region 4 semifinal game against Wahama (14-16) with the queen of the diamond, Chelsey Parkins, taking over the game and ensuring an easy 8-1 victory on Thursday night.
Parkins came out hot from the mound, sitting the first three batters quickly via strikeouts, and came out with more fire at the plate. After left fielder Katie Higginbotham doubled and shortstop Ali Burdette reached base from an error on Wahama’s Bailey Hicks, Parkins headed to the plate where she smacked the first of two home runs in the win.
“I’ve been hitting off the handle the past few games and yesterday all I worked on at practice was hitting. Coach moved me back in the box and it seemed to have worked,” Parkins said.
On only the second pitch to come her way, she stroked a homer beyond the center field fence for Buffalo’s first three runs.
Parkins, later in the fourth inning, had an identical situation when heading to the plate.
Buffalo was leading 5-1 after Parkins had allowed a walk and Wahama’s Shaylan Greer hit a triple to score Sierra Carmichael. Parkins, feeling the need to redeem herself, stepped to the plate with Higginbotham and Burdette on base and sent the ball back over the right field fence for another three-run homer.
Bison coach Darrell Moore was pleased with Parkins’ improvement at the plate.
“She was in a groove. We are hitting the ball and didn’t have one of our girls strike out tonight. I’m happy with how we are playing,” Moore said.
Parkins finished 2-for-3 and was walked in the sixth inning for her final at-bat. She had a tougher time on the mound than usual.
Rather than playing on the turf field installed by the program several seasons ago, out of fairness, Secondary School Activities Commission rules prohibit Buffalo from using the turf field in postseason games. Therefore, Parkins was stuck in a situation of unfamiliarity on the mound.
“I wasn’t used to the rubber mat on this field. I was striding out too far and it was getting frustrating,” she said.
She allowed two walks, and three hits, which seem like decent numbers, but is not usual for the senior veteran.
“She wasn’t throwing her best,” Moore said. “We could get the screwball or drop ball to work well and even her fastball was coming up more than usual. She threw more balls today than she has all season. One walk for her isn’t even normal, but the mound wasn’t working with her and she smacked the ball so we’ll take it.”
She finished with nine strikeouts in seven fast-paced innings while her defense held down the rest of the diamond for those who managed to get hold of Parkins heat.
Centerfielder Olivia Dunn had a double in the second inning, and later scored from Higginbotham forcing an error on Wahama’s Cynthia Hendrick to cushion the six runs Parkins produced.
In the third inning, Whitney Dingess scored on another error from Wahama’s Elisabeth Hendrick to add the last run to the start of Buffalo’s fourth consecutive journey to a state title.
Buffalo will play the winner of Williamstown and Wirt County next Thursday in the regional final game to determine who will be heading to the state tournament.
“No matter where we are headed next week, I know we’ll be ready to play and win,” Moore said.