ILLIAMSTOWN - Williamstown received a rude awakening from the three-time defending state champs in Class A.
Thursday afternoon in a Region IV final, Buffalo pitcher Allie Burdette pitched a no-hitter and came within a hit batsman from a perfect game, while on the offensive end lead-off hitter Katie Higginbotham went 4-for-4 at the plate with two runs scored and two RBIs as Buffalo defeated the Yellowjackets 8-0 in five innings.
"We're capable of a four-peat, but when you get to the state tournament they are all tough," said Buffalo coach Darrell Moore after his ballclub improved to 26-7. "I like our pitching and our hitting. Last year, we didn't hit like a darn and we won. This year, we are hitting the ball a little bit better, so we will see what happens."
Photo by Jeff Baughan
Buffalo's Katie Higginbotham, left, and Williamstown's Emrie Gray look to third base umpire Bob Carr for a call Thursday in their Class A regional final. The Yellowjackets lost, 8-0.
Buffalo jumped on top of Williamstown early with three runs in the first inning and two more in the second inning as the Yellowjackets never mounted a threat mainly because of Burdette's prowess on the mound. The junior struck out the first two batters she faced - and eight overall - and retired 13 in a row before hitting Cierra King with a pitch with one out in the bottom of the fifth inning.
The Buffalo defense bailed Burdette out on the very next at bat as the Bison turned a game-ending double play.
"It definitely takes a lot of pressure off because of my defense backing me up," Burdette said. "I tried not to think about the perfect game. I was just focusing on the batters. I was just trying to pitch a good game."
Williamstown continued to make progress this season by winning 20 games and advanced to the regional final for the first time since 2007.
As recently as four years ago, this program won only three games. It's just that the Yellowjackets happened to run into a buzzsaw and a program which won three consecutive 1-0 games while claiming a state title a year ago.
"This was kind of new to us - these girls had never played in a game like this," Williamstown coach Ron Stanley said.
"Of course, they were nervous and it took a while for them to adjust. They were able to settle down a little bit, but they don't have the experience that Buffalo has.
"We've made huge steps this season and we're going where we want to go. Of course in games like this it doesn't feel like it. Our girls are not happy, but they understand and are willing to get better to become more competitive."
Buffalo took out all the drama by batting around in the first inning. Higginbotham delivered the first of her two doubles and later scored on a wild pitch when teammate Chelsey Parkins struck out but reached first base safely as the ball eluded the Williamstown catcher.
The next batter, Chase Cristy, drove in two runs with a base hit to center field and just like that the Bison led 3-0.
In the second inning, Burdette hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Higginbotham with one of her two runs, while Parkins executed the safety squeeze to perfection as Courtney Allen crossed home plate for a 5-0 Buffalo advantage.
Higginbotham caused more commotion in the third inning with a two-run double, while Parkins scored the Bison's eighth run in fourth inning on an errant throw to third base.
Of the balls put in play by Williamstown, Bri Lynch was robbed of a base hit when Buffalo right fielder Taylor Briscoe gathered in a ball hit in her direction and threw to first base to retire the Yellowjacket junior.