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Prep softball notebook: Burdette passes milestone, sets sights on next goal

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- South Charleston pitcher Alli Burdette had reason to be pleased at her passing a personal milestone Wednesday, but the senior's outlook after beating Ripley 3-1 in the Mountain State Athletic Conference third-place game was more focused on her team.

"It feels great. Last year was kind of a rough year, but this year we're doing a lot better," Burdette said after leading the Black Eagles to their 17th victory of the season against nine losses.

"I've got a good team behind me. We have a lot of underclassmen that have had a great year, too."

A prep player in any sport that is surrounded by positive history within her program is valuable to the player's development, Burdette said. The 2012 Kanawha Valley Player of the Year and All-State pitcher who has signed to play college softball at Division I Elon recorded her 1,000th career strikeout when she fanned Ripley's Miranda Murphy in the sixth inning at Hurricane High School.

Burdette has 1,002 strikeouts in her career.

"I think it's a good thing. They have someone to look up to but also something to strive for," she said. "Something like this makes them want to work harder."

Burdette is keenly aware of SC softball history as well. While she transferred to the school from Sissonville after her freshman year, she said that her goal for the remainder of 2013 is to get the Black Eagles program to a place it hasn't been in a while - the State Tournament.

When the State Tournament was mentioned Wednesday, Burdette said two words.

"Chelsea Cobb," she said, referring to the ace pitcher that led SC to the 2008 Class AAA title game before falling to Huntington.

With class realignment that took effect at the beginning of the school year came regional realignment. As a result of it, SC remained in Region 3 but the team that eliminated it from postseason play a year ago - Logan - moved to Region 4, and is now in the same section with St. Albans and Nitro.

South Charleston's biggest obstacles to a hoped-for trip to Vienna's Jackson Park are No. 8 Ripley (16-6) and No. 10 Shady Spring. The Tigers were 11-2 entering this week.

"Space is looking good. It would be great. I haven't been there in my career, and hopefully we get to go this year," she said.

Sectional tournament play begins next week. The Black Eagles are paired in Region 3, Section 3 with rival George Washington.

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THE BLACK EAGLES' appearance in the MSAC playoffs came as a result of scheduling. South Charleston edged out St. Albans for the No. 4 seed, although by looking at standings based upon won-loss records.

St. Albans finished the league season with a 10-3 record against MSAC opponents, with South Charleston finishing 9-3. SA beat South Charleston in the teams' only head-to-head meeting, at SC on April 6.

South Charleston's rating average was higher than SA's, however. St. Albans (19-4) had yet to play Riverside (17-13) when the pairings were decided last Sunday. Meanwhile, South Charleston had not played either Beckley or Princeton. Those teams constituted the 13th (Beckley) and 15th (Princeton) place teams in the league's final standings.

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BUFFALO'S DROP from the No. 1 spot in the West Virginia Sportswriters Class A poll on April 15 has been met with an eight-game winning streak that includes a 3-1 road win at Class AAA No. 7 Morgantown last Saturday. Bison sophomore Ali Burdette held the Mohigans (19-8) to three hits.

Buffalo was 20-4 entering Thursday's doubleheader against Van.

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KYLA SHULL'S four-hitter of No. 3 Hurricane (25-5) in Cabell Midland's 12-2 MSAC title-game victory Wednesday was perhaps a rebirth of sorts for the junior pitcher, Midland Coach Jeanne Lunsford said.

"She's had to change her style. When they moved the pitcher back a couple feet a few years ago she had to change," Lunsford said. "She used to go for faster stuff and she's had to learn to move the ball around better."

Shull has worked with Lunsford's husband and Midland (24-4) assistant coach Greg Lunsford through the course of the season to improve her breaking pitches. In her start at Hurricane on April 10, Shull gave up six hits and five earned runs in 2  2/3 innings before being relieved by Abbie Tolbert.

Hurricane eventually won that game 15-13.

Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at derek.taylor@dailymail.com or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter @ItsreallyDT.


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