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Prep softball: Buffalo eyes third consecutive crown

Buffalo Coach Darrell Moore wanted to establish a softball program that would be one of the state's finest, and the he has done just that.

Moore led Buffalo to its first state title in 2002 and two years later, won again in 2004.

Despite continuing to be in the mix year after year, the Bison went six years without winning another title, but finally added another championship trophy in 2010.

Buffalo defended its title last year and look to be in prime position for a possible three-peat heading into the season, with its top players returning to the team.

"When we started this program 20 years ago, the first goal was to win the first state championship in any sport at Buffalo," the veteran coach said. "In 2002 we did that, and have always been in contention ever since. We are very proud of where the program is.

"We are tickled to death how the community has bought into it. You can't do anything without financing. We have the best facilities in the state because the community and kids. It's what our program is built from."

The Putnam County program is loaded again in 2013, returning three All-State selections in Ali Burdette, Chelsey Parkins and Katie Higginbotham.

A dual-threat, Burdette hit .541 and had a 9-2 record with a 1.33 earned run average last season. Parkins hit .460 and had a 12-2 record and 1.75 ERA, while Higginbotham hit .458.

"All of them are outstanding players," said Moore, who is in his 20th season guiding the Bison.

"They are all first-team All-State selections. For a Class A program, we are very fortunate to have the athletes we have.

Moore doesn't anticipate any extra pressure, as Buffalo will try to defend its title for a third straight season with the giant bulls-eye on its chest.

"The kids are under pressure all the time, so it doesn't affect them," Moore said. They love to play, win, and have fun. Everyone expects us to win. When somebody beats us, it looks as if they have won a state title."

Moore knows just how fortunate he is to have not one, but two dominant pitchers in Burdette and Parkins. In fact, the Bison coach feels he has at least four quality arms if he needs them.

"Softball is built around pitching and it makes it easy on a coach," said Moore, who opens the season at home against Hannan at 5:30 p.m. Thurday. "It's always great to have pitching. We lost our third pitcher, Courtney Allen, to a basketball injury and our No. 4 Noell Dingess could pitch for most teams, too. We are fortunate to have four or five pitchers.

"They just don't get the chance to show themselves much because of what we have with Ali and Chelsey. Ali gave up basketball to concentrate on pitching and hitting and is on top of her game. It will take Chelsey a little longer coming back from basketball, but she will as well."



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