WILLIAMSTOWN, W.Va. — Class A Region 4 softball champion Buffalo will head to the state tournament yet again after an 8-0, five-inning shutout of host Williamstown on Thursday evening.
Buffalo was unstoppable in all aspects. The Bison were running up the scoreboard while junior pitcher Ali Burdette held her own on the mound with a no-hitter, and near-perfect game.
“She had a perfect game going until she threw that screwball too far inside,” coach Darrell Moore said. “I told her yesterday she could have a perfect game and all she needed was that screwball to work, but man she’s dynamite.”
Burdette kept the bases empty until the final inning, when her screwball missed the target and struck Williamstown junior Cierra King. But in allowing that runner, Buffalo took that opportunity to end the game in fashionable way.
With a routine ground ball to shortstop Chelsey Parkins, the Bison infield turned a 6-4-3 double play.
Burdette finished the day with eight strikeouts in five innings, but struggled at the plate having only one hit. But her performance was too familiar.
In the 2013 state tournament championship game against Moorefield, Burdette struggled with each at-bat, hitting every ball in the outfield just shy from the fence. But each shot was closer to clearing the fence each time, identical to what happened in Thursday’s regional final.
“She is so anxious. She wants to jump on it so quick, home runs are going foul. If she hits them, then they are rocket shots,” said Moore.
But according to Moore, Burdette was lacking only one thing that kept her from getting into an offensive frenzy.
“Patience,” he said.
And while Burdette lacked this Thursday, senior Katie Higginbotham picked up any slack Burdette had left by going 4 for 4 from the plate, with two doubles. Buffalo’s leadoff hitter set the pace for the game.
“She has experience and patience. She has been at it for three or four years being a lead-off hitter and she was just on it today,” Moore said of Higginbotham. “Katie does a lot of things people don’t see. She is a phenomenal left fielder and does her job at the plate. You can do a lot of things when you get these leadoff hitters on base. She got our first hit and made it around to be our first run. Getting around the bases like that rustles up the other pitcher.”
Higginbotham crossed the plate twice and contributed two more RBI, allowing Olivia Dunn and Taylor Briscoe to score after they singled in the third inning.
Catcher Chase Christy also helped set pace for the game with two RBI while Parkins assisted the final two runs with a sacrifice to score Courtney Allen. Parkins was walked in the fourth inning and was the last player to cross the plate after she scored on an overthrown ball by Williamstown catcher Kylie Powell.
Buffalo heads into the state tournament Wednesday with a 26-7 record and will play either Moorefield or Tygarts Valley in the first round.