Prep softball: Burdette dominates as Buffalo completes three-peat
VIENNA, W.Va. -- The Buffalo softball program is getting comfortable making history.
The Bison became the first program in school history to win three consecutive state titles Thursday, beating Moorefield 1-0 for their third straight Class A state championship.
There was another, perhaps more unique element of the title win for Coach Darrell Moore's team. They became the first team in State Tournament history to win a title while scoring just three runs in the entire tournament.
The Bison (34-4) beat Central 1-0 in their opener Wednesday, then beat Moorefield 1-0 in the winner's bracket Wednesday evening.
"It feels amazing to win three titles in a row, but I also think it's just another game. Improvement is what matters to me, and I couldn't ask for much more from these girls," Moore said.
Buffalo sophomore pitcher Ali Burdette again showed herself to be a force to be reckoned with in and out of the circle. As she stepped up to the plate in the first inning, she ripped the ball out of the park, scoring the game's only run on a 210-foot home run.
"I was not hitting good all weekend. I was due for something big and I knew it," Burdette said.
The homer was Burdette's second hit of the entire tournament. She singled against Central on Wednesday morning.
But her hot hands at the plate only started with a homer.
Her next at-bat, she doubled in attempt to start a two-out rally in the bottom of the third inning.
As the winning pitcher in a title-game win against Moorefield for the second year in a row, Burdette had a below-average eight strikeouts.
"Usually you will see 12 or 13 strikeouts, but today Moorefield was hitting the ball," Moore said.
It was Buffalo's defense that kept zeroes on the board for Moorefield.
Burdette showed her ability to stop opponents with more than her pitching arm in the fourth inning.
With runners on second and third, Burdette fielded the ball hit by Shayne Vetter and faked a throw to first base.
Moorefield senior Katelynn Wills fell for the pump fake while leaning toward home, and Burdette spun and fired to junior third baseman Katie Allen to retire her easily, and Buffalo again escaped without giving up a run.
"This is why we practice. They know little plays like that make the biggest differences. Burdette couldn't have played that better, and Katie was ready for it," Moore said.
There was another close call for Buffalo in the third. Moorefield's Ashley Rexrode stood on second and Michaela Regester on first. Beth Riggleman hit a single into the gap where it was fielded by Buffalo left fielder Katie Higginbotham.
Higginbotham fielded the ball cleanly, saw Rexrode rounding third, and without hesitation launched the ball to freshman catcher Chase Christy.
With a perfect throw and tag, Christy retired Rexrode to end the inning.
"I knew where I had missed a routine ball earlier in the game that I had to do this," Higginbotham said. "I was nervous, but the team counted on a big play like that, and I was due for it."
Chase Christy was 2-for-3 with a pair of singles in the win, and center fielder Olivia Dunn singled in the bottom of the sixth.
Moorefield starter Taylor Zuber took the loss, striking out five.
The Yellow Jackets threatened again in the seventh, when junior shortstop Beth Cook singled to put runners on first and second with one out. However, Burdette ended the game with a pair of strikeouts.
The third title was clinched when Moorefield sophomore Brooke Riggleman swung and missed at strike three.
"I have worked with Chase since we were in middle school," Burdette said. "Coach called the pitch, and Chase set it up exactly where her glove needed to be. When I threw the last pitch I just knew I had to make her swing.
"Coach and Chase did their part."
Like Cook, Katelynn Wills also doubled her first at bat, and ended her day 2-for-3 with a single. Moorefield's only other hits came out of singles from Michaela Regester, Ashley Rexrode, and Jayme Fraley.