VIENNA, W.Va. — Buffalo established itself as Class A’s dominant presence in its softball state tournament opener Wednesday, routing Moorefield with a 14-3 win at Jackson Park that was halted after six innings.
Though it had the same winner as the teams’ final meeting a year ago, it was a world away from the 2013 state championship game won 1-0 by the Bison. Thursday, however, Buffalo had its bats rolling.
Buffalo began its winner’s bracket game against Magnolia (18-14) on Wednesday evening, but the game suspended in the fourth inning because of inclement weather.
The game’s first three innings were quiet with Buffalo having no hits and Magnolia having catcher Audrey Gibb as its only baserunner.
In the fourth, Buffalo started a rally with Courtney Allen reaching first base on an error by Blue Eagles second baseman Jordan Grimm. Pitcher Ali Burdette hit a double in the right-center field gap to score Allen. Burdette was left hanging on second base when the game was halted.
The game will resume at 9 a.m. Thursday morning with Buffalo leading 1-0. The loser will play Moorefield 30 minutes after the conclusion of Thursday’s opening Class A game, and the championship game is scheduled for 2 p.m.
Buffalo senior left fielder Katie Higginbotham had the breakout performance in the opener, going 4 of 5 with three RBI.
“We didn’t hit the ball all tournament last year, starting with sectionals. Last year we couldn’t find a hole, but today it was just working for us,” Higginbotham said.
Higginbotham, as the veteran leadoff hitter, started off with a strikeout, and the next two batters were quickly sat down in order by Moorefield starting pitcher Dani Rogers. But Higginbotham came back to the plate in the third inning with guns blaring.
“I was clearly nervous going in there, but I just told myself this is it. I need to step up and be the hero,” Higginbotham said.
She started Buffalo’s first rally of the game in the third inning after Olivia Dunn reached base on a single. Higginbotham tripled to bring in Dunn, sparking a five-run inning by the Bison.
Higginbotham finished 4 for 5 from the plate, but that was only the beginning for Buffalo.
Buffalo coach Darrell Moore was pleased with the change in offense from last year’s state tournament. Each player in the starting lineup for the Bison crossed the plate at least once.
“I mean I was tickled to death. It’s hard to complain about 14 runs,” Moore said.
Senior pitcher Chelsey Parkins finished with eight strikeouts, but made her biggest contribution on the bases. She had four stolen bases to put herself in scoring position after each at-bat after the first inning and was 2 for 2.
“We got on the bases. That’s the biggest part. Then we just moved them around today. But man that error killed us,” Moore said.
Right fielder Taylor Briscoe dropped a ball in the third inning that led to Moorefield’s only runs, but came back to also redeem herself. Briscoe was 1 for 3 and kept a second rally alive in the sixth inning. The Bison tacked on five more runs in the top of the sixth to put the Yellow Jackets in a score-or-lose position an inning early.
Tara George singled but Parkins got two strikeouts to end the game.