Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

April 27, 2014

West Virginia teams shine brightest in Boyd Spring Classic

CATLETTSBURG — Three-time defending West Virginia Class A softball champion Buffalo showcased its All-State pitching duo in the Boyd County Days Inn Spring Classic on Saturday.

After junior Ali Burdette fired a two-hitter to deal Portsmouth Notre Dame only its third loss of the season, senior Chelsey Parkins held strong-hitting Boyd County to four singles in Buffalo’s 4-1 victory.

“We ride our pitching,” said Darrell Moore, now in his 21st coaching season at the small Putnam County school — enrollment 265. “We feel we have two of the best pitchers in West Virginia.”

Boyd County coach Geoff Stewart certainly was impressed after watching Parkins limit the Lady Lions to an unearned run.

“She’s one of the best pitchers we’ve faced all year,” Stewart said.    

In all, the eight-team field played nine games Saturday at the Boyd County Optimist Fields after Friday’s schedule was washed out.

Heavy-hitting Spring Valley of Huntington also finished 2-0, beating Rowan County and Russell. Only Portsmouth Notre Dame’s 7-3 win over Wayne — the reigning Class AA champ — prevented West Virginia’s trio from going unbeaten on the day.

Buffalo and Wayne are currently ranked second in their respective classes.

Parkins and Boyd County’s Alex Meade were locked in a 1-1 battle going to the sixth inning. That’s when Buffalo launched a three-run rally with two outs and nobody on base, following shortstop Taylor Wheeler’s nice play on a grounder in the hole.

The Lady Bison loaded the bases as Noell Dingess and Katie Allen each singled, and Taylor Briscoe walked. Olivia Dunn grounded a two-run single up the middle, just beyond Wheeler’s reach, then Paige Rousch bunted for a hit to make it 4-1.

 “We had a really good game going until the sixth,” Stewart said. “Buffalo did what good teams do, they put some things together. I thought we played well enough to win. We just need to get a little fundamentally stronger in areas, so we can win the close ones.”

Boyd County (13-10) had its chances after Buffalo grabbed an early 1-0 lead. The Lady Lions loaded the bases in the second and third innings, but Parkins got out of the first jam with a strikeout and escaped the other with back-to-back pop outs.

“You can’t leave the bases loaded two times and expect to win,” Stewart said.

The Lady Lions got their lone run in the fifth. Wheeler walked, stole second and came around to score as Kenzi Martin reached first on a throwing error. Buffalo avoided further damage with a double play and strikeout. The Lady Bison’s defense ended the game by turning another DP after Meade walked and Wheeler singled for her second hit.

“Boyd County’s a good softball team,” Moore said. “I’ve followed their season and know (assistant coach Dave) Wheeler real well. We wanted to come here last year, it just didn’t work out. We thrive on playing good teams.”

Buffalo has reeled off 14 consecutive wins, including 11 shutouts, after a 1-5 start. The Lady Bison avenged two losses during the current streak.  

Meanwhile, Stewart saw plenty to like from Meade’s performance.

“I thought Alex pitched really well, especially for someone that has not pitched in a couple of weeks,” her coach said. “Her back was bothering her, then she got hit by a line drive during our trip to Myrtle Beach.”

Earlier Saturday, Boyd County received a boost in the circle from Hannah Irvine. The junior pitched a three-hitter with seven strikeouts in the Lady Lions’ 8-1 win over Tates Creek.

“Hannah is on fire,” Stewart said. “She has pitched really well of late. That changeup kept Tates Creek so off-balance.”

Irvine earned her seventh win of the season, tops on Boyd County’s staff.

“It was a good day for the changeup,” Irvine said. “I’m happy with how it’s going. I think all our pitchers are doing well. We have a really good defense behind us, and great hitting.”

Wheeler provided the highlight, a two-run bomb that landed well beyond the fence in left center. Stewart estimated the ball traveled 240-250 feet.

Said Irvine: “If this had been at our home field, it probably would have hit the El Hasa Temple.”

Lora Thompson and Kenzi Martin smacked RBI doubles for the Lady Lions, and Thompson also singled home a run. Leadoff batter Houston Reeves was on base three times, scored twice and drove in another run. Aryanna Cannoy doubled to start Boyd County’s two-run sixth.       

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