Buffalo inches closer to Class A three-peat

VIENNA -Buffalo is sitting pretty for a possible third straight Class A state softball title.

The Bison won two 1-0 games on the opening day of the state tournament Wednesday at Jackson Park, while Wheeling Central staved off elimination in the loser’s bracket. Moorefield also has one loss after losing to Buffalo 1-0 following its 3-2 win against Man, which was eliminated.

Opening round games

Buffalo 1,

Wheeling Central 0

An offensive explosion the first time around, Buffalo and Wheeling Central decided to keep runs to a minimum in the opening round of the Class A state tournament.

Wednesday morning at Jackson Park, Katie Higginbotham’s run-scoring single with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning resulted in the game’s only run and Ali Burdette pitched out of a jam in the top half of the seventh inning to secure Buffalo’s 1-0 win.

During the regular season, Wheeling Central defeated two-time defending state champion Buffalo, 11-9.

“We knew it wouldn’t be like that again,” Buffalo coach Darrell Moore said after his ballclub extended itsw winning streak to 20 games. “That first game was early in the year and neither pitcher was ready at the time. We knew today would be a good game.

Wheeling Central starting pitcher retired the first 10 batters she faced and 15 of the first 16 overall.

“It seemed like everything we were hitting was right to them,” Moore said. “They made some nice plays and kept us off the bases, too.”

After surrendering a lead-off single and a one-out walk in the top of the first inning, Burdette found her rhythm and set down 18 of 19 hitters until Sydney Bennington and Sarah Henry registered back-to-back singles with one out in the seventh inning.

Wheeling Central’s Vanessa Saseen lined out to second base, but the fielder’s throw back to the pitcher sailed into foul territory on the third base side and the baserunners advanced one base. Burdette then induced a groundout to third base for the game’s final out.

Burdette struck out seven and walked two, while Basinger struck out eight and walked none. Both pitchers allowed three hits (all singles).

“Basinger has come up big for us the last few games,” Wheeling Central coach Rick Magruder said. “Their pitcher did a good job. We just couldn’t come up with the big hit. It’s too early to go into the loser’s bracket.”

Moorefield 3, Man 2

Brooke Riggelman’s one-out, single brought home Beth Cook from third base with the winning run as Moorefield recovered from a one-run deficit in the bottom of the seventh inning to defeat Man, 3-2, in an opening round game at the Class A state softball tournament.

Man led on several occasions. Cari Blair led off the top of the second inning with a walk and one out later scored when Taylor Tomblin doubled to right field.

Moorefield, which didn’t lead until the final batter of the game, tied the score at 1 in the third inning. With one out, Jayme Fraley singled, went to second on an error and advanced to third on a wild pitch after Danica Rogers drew a base on balls.

With runners now on the corners, Cook delivered an RBI single.

Man struck again in the sixth inning. Summer Sword opened the frame by getting hit by a pitch then reached second base on a wild pitch. With one out, Blair’s single to left field plated Sword without a throw.

Down to their final three outs and trailing 2-1, the Yellowjackets began their comeback when Fraley walked then scored on Cook’s one-out single. Michaela Regester reached safely on an error at shortstop then Riggleman delivered her game-winning hit to the gap in right-center field.

In seven innings on the mound, Rogers struck out eight, walked three and allowed four hits. Her counterpart, Tomblin, struck out six, walked four and surrendered seven hits in 6 1/3 innings.

Loser’s bracket game

Wheeling Central 5,

Man 2

Wheeling Central kept its championship hopes alive here Wednesday night, with a 5-2 victory over Man in an elimination game.

After being shutout in a winner’s bracket game versus Buffalo, 1-0, in the morning round,the Maroon Knights quickly erased their goose egg by scoring on a Man error in the first inning. The Knights took a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the second until Man scored a run on a base-loaded RBI single by senior Emily Osborne. Man took the lead shortly on a two-out single by lead-off hitter Kelly Grimmett. Wheeling Central immediately answered in the third inning, scoring the unearned tying run on an error by Hillbilly junior first baseman Madison Keffer.

The score remained tied 2-2 until the top of the sixth when Central pitcher Sarah Henry drove in a runner from third, followed by a two RBI single by leftfielder Cassidy McCord, two batters later. The Hillbillies would go on to load the bases in the bottom of the seventh but did not convert for any runs.

Going the distance on the mound for the Maroon Knights was senior Sarah Henry. Henry gave up two runs on eight hits with zero walks. Completing the game for Man was senior Taylor Tomblin. Tomblin gave up eight hits and allowed five runs with one strikeout and zero walks.

The leading hitters on the day for Wheeling Central were Allison Cook, who went 2-for-3, and Cassidy McCord who went 1-for-3 with two RBI.

Winner’s bracket final

Buffalo 1, Moorefield 0

On the mound for Buffalo was Chelsey Perkins and competing against her for the Yellow Jackets was senior Shayna Vetter.

Both teams got off to good starts in the game, holding each other scoreless for the first three innings with no one advancing past first base.

The closest either team came occurred when Moorefield courtesy runner Cheyenne Linder was thrown out by Buffalo catcher Chase Kristeen in the second inning. The throw was a rocket, reaching the bag four full steps before Linder did and making an easy out call for the officials.

Buffalo gave that out back in inning later when sophomore Paige England was caught trying to swipe second after being hit by a pitch.

The only blemish in an otherwise strong effort from the Yellowjackets came in the fourth inning when Vetter walked two straight batters and Olivia Dunn singled to load the bases. Katie Allen walked, allowing the only run of the game to score. Vetter was relieved by senior Taylor Zuber who pitched 3 sterling innings, allowing four hits and striking out two.

Leading the Bison was Perkins, who threw a complete game, striking out 10 Yellowjackets and allowing only two hits.