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Prep softball: Buffalo loaded for another title run

By Kasey Hickman

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Buffalo softball team, the reigning Class A state champion, heads into the 2014 season full of confident veterans, eager underclassmen and a coach hungry for another state title.

Buffalo's 1-0 win over Moorefield for the 2013 title clinched the team's fourth straight state championship. The Bison (34-4) did not give up a run at Jackson Park in Vienna.

Still, coach Darrel Moore strives for more.

"We only scored one run in the last of our three games," Moore said. "They all came down to one hit. We are working on teaching these girls that we can't have room for any mistakes. In order to make sure those mistakes don't happen, we have to push them and continue to work on fundamentals."

Buffalo is hosting a 12-team scrimmage with teams from all over the state Saturday to challenge itself with bigger competition. Moore said the team has also amped up its regular-season schedule to ensure another state title.

"We have added more teams from other classes that will be better competition," Moore said. "It is nice to have a veteran team, but we still have to improve and push these girls to win."

Buffalo lost no starters, but had a roster of only 12 girls last season. This season, Moore is looking to make use of more underclassmen that are eager to work for starting positions.

Senior pitchers and alternating shortstops Chelsey Parkins and Ali Burdette led the team with .523 (Parkins) and .486 (Burdette) batting averages last season as juniors, but are also the heart of this team emotionally. Both were Class A All-State selections in 2013, as was centerfielder Katie Higginbotham. Parkins, who was a runner-up for the state player of the year award last year, was 15-1 as a pitcher with 161 strikeouts. Burdette was 16-2 with 162 Ks. Higginbotham hit .462 as a junior in 2013.

Other returning starters include seniors Chase Christy (.402 batting average in 2013) and Katie Allen (.350).

"We have six starting seniors who have played nearly every year," Moore said. "They have great leadership and I expect a lot from them. Although they've worked four years for that position, we have a lot of underclassmen who really want to play and that give us room to work.

"Now we have more depth on the team," he added. "If a starter was to be injured they could be replaced with another hard-working kid or if we need to adjust to a team differently."

While Moore is working these younger players to perform at their best caliber, he is always working to improve his entire team's fundamentals.

"We are starting the season with two-a-days," he said. "That entire time, we are using our indoor facilities to improve fundamental plays and abilities. Just like ending the state tournament comes down to one run, and that's because of fundamentals. That's why I always emphasize them."

Moore is confident his team can succeed and credits that confidence to his players.

"They make me look like a genius, but I'm not," he said. "They do well and work very hard for their own success."

Buffalo opens its regular season at home against Hannan on March 20.


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