Buckner leads Hoover past Petersburg for AA softball championship

VIENNA — Three is a magic number, and Herbert Hoover gave a performance that cemented a magical run at Jackson Park in Vienna.

With seven innings to play for glory, the Huskies (35-1) fulfilled their dream of winning a third consecutive Class AA softball championship on Thursday.

Delani Buckner’s 13-strikeout, two-hitter frustrated Petersburg batters en route to a 5-1 win over the Vikings. The dominance from the righty was highlighted when she retired seven of the first nine Viking batters by way of the K.

Her only major blemish in the contest was a solo homer given up to Jenna Burgess in the fourth. Bryanna Moreland walked as the next batter up, but Buckner got out of the inning and proceeded to strike out the side in the following inning. Striking out the last two Petersburg batters swinging, Buckner etched her team into the history books.

“It feels nice having the (last) strikeout, but it feels nicer at the bottom of the dogpile,” she said of the celebration following that final swing and miss.

The offensive production started early for the Huskies when Cortney Fizer singled and sent Megan Seafler home to make it 1-0 in the home half of the first. Grayson Buckner followed suit and drove in her sister Delani with a single of her own.

The early run production put PHS behind the 8-ball, as the Burgess home run was all they could muster. An error on a throw to first on a bunt led to the Huskies regaining the two-run advantage. Then, Presley McGee broke the game open with a two-run double down the line in left.

However, it was a contest played with heavy hearts for Hoover. Assistant coach Jamanda Rollyson was away from the team following the passing of her brother, and that gave Hoover something to play for that was bigger than the game. It evoked a show of emotion from skipper Missy Smith.

“We’re missing our assistant coach,” she said. “She buried her brother today. This one is special, because it’s for her. We miss her greatly, and for the girls to rally around that and play hard for her, it’s a big deal.”

While the season ended on a down note for the Vikings, they did have to battle just to get to this point. They fell to Hoover the previous day and had to defeat Independence to punch their ticket to the championship series. A 5-2 win and complete game performance from Burgess knocked the Patriots out and put them within two victories of winning the championship. The Vikes head home to Petersburg after a 32-5 campaign.