By KASEY HICKMAN
FOR THE DAILY MAIL
VIENNA, W.Va. — Chelsey Parkins finished her final high school softball game exactly how she planned.
The senior struck out seven and allowed only three hits and no walks Thursday, as Class A Buffalo cruised to its fourth consecutive softball state championship with an 8-0, five-inning win over Moorefield at Jackson Park.
Parkins and the Bison emphasized the theme of family with the win.
“We have all been playing together since we were 8 years old. We are like a family,” Parkins said.
The Bison’s defense was there for Parkins repeatedly in the win. No Moorefield base runner reached third, Bison senior third baseman Katie Allen standing out on defense.
Moorefield’s Kelsey Hines singled in the second inning, and in attempt to move Hines along, Ashley Rexrode popped up a bunt, with Allen charging in to catch the ball and put out Rexrode. Allen then stunned the crowd — as well as Moorefield’s roster — by doubling up Hines, who was barely off the bag.
Yet it wasn’t solely the seniors who made Buffalo champion in each of the past four years. The underclassmen, especially junior center fielder Olivia Dunn, made Thursday’s championship a special moment for the Bison for their own reasons.
Dunn, who bats ninth, isn’t looked upon as the team’s go-to hitter. Yet she went 2 for 2 at the plate, had the game’s first RBI and crossed the plate twice herself.
“This is my third title,” said Dunn. “It’s amazing. But I came into this one not playing for myself. This is the last group of the seniors and I think that’s what set everybody off, and once you realize you aren’t playing for yourself you start playing a little better.”
Junior Taylor Briscoe singled in the bottom of the second inning, with Dunn on deck. On the first pitch, Dunn hit a solid single to allow the speedy Briscoe to reach home, and Dunn continued to second base after the throw went to home plate.
Following up Dunn and Briscoe’s lead, sophomore Chase Christy had a huge role in the third and fourth innings.
“Chase had a great game. She’s only a sophomore and that proves what our program is about,” Bison coach Darrell Moore said.
After both junior Ali Burdette and Parkins singled in the third inning, Christy stepped to the plate. With her first RBI, Christy brought home Burdette and following the sophomore’s lead, senior Noell Dingess laid down a sacrifice bunt to score Parkins.
In the fourth inning, Christy was pressured with two runners on base and two outs. After the third pitch, she stroked the ball into the outfield for a two-run single.
Ali Burdette also went 2 for 3 with one RBI and Courtney Allen brought Olivia Dunn across home plate after forcing Moorefield’s all-tournament player Beth Cook to commit an error.
Moore said that though he has taken home six state titles in his 21 years with the Buffalo program, the current run does not seem to be the end of an era, even after losing six seniors, four of which were starters.
“I knew when this group of seniors came in as freshman and won a title, that this was possible,” Moore said. “But I know with this group of girls still here, we will be back, definitely.”