BUFFALO — When rivals play on the same field, things can get heated.
The North-South Classic softball series brought state rivals together Thursday and left the heat to the weather. The South dominated its North counterpart, sweeping the series by scores of 6-1, 7-3 and 6-2.
The day kicked off with the state player of the year showing why she deserves the title in the skills competition. Buffalo’s Ali Burdette took three of the six events, beating the competition by tossing the ball overhand at 65 mph and underhand at 60. She also won the home run derby, putting five over the fence.
Burdette was humble when asked about the awards as she finished her high school career.
“I wasn’t really worried about how I did; I just wanted to have fun,” she said. “It’s my last time playing in this Buffalo uniform and on this field, so I just wanted to enjoy myself.
“I’m blessed to even be nominated for any awards. Buffalo is a great town. With all the support they have given me, they have made me the player I am today.”
Summer Collins of Logan won the sprint competitions in races from home to first and first to third. Cabell Midland’s Abigail Tolbert took the bunting competition, giving the South a sweep of the six categories.
With heat index temperatures topping 100 degrees, the first of the three games began and Burdette got it going for the South with a two-run home run in the bottom of the first. The North responded in the top of the fifth as Kaitlyn Sisler of Fayetteville batted in Savana Casto of Ravenswood.
The South responded with three runs in the bottom of the fifth after doubles by Spring Valley’s Jade Spurlock, Burdette and Courtney Rogers.
Tolbert ended the game in the top of the seventh, retiring the North in order.
Burdette took MVP honors in the first game for the South, while Moie Ray from Ritchie County received the North honors after pitching two solid innings.
In the second game, the South’s first run came in the second inning on a RBI hit from Emily Davis. The North took the lead in the bottom of the fourth with three runs as Roane County’s Cassidy Taylor drove in one with a double and Robinson later added two RBIs.
The South responded in the fifth with a six-run inning. Jenna Marsh of Cabell Midland and Winfield’s Natalie Miskofsky, Kenna Markham and Kaitlyn Legg each batted in a run.
Lincoln County’s Brandi Isaacs was named the South MVP in the second game for her work behind the plate for four innings, while Taylor was the North’s selection for her RBI.
The day ended with a shortened five-inning finale. The South struck first with a RBI from Buffalo’s Olivia Dunn, and the North responded with a run in the second with an RBI double from Cameron’s Linda Hall.
In the bottom of the third, the South added two runs as Collins scored on a wild pitch and Burdette came around on a double by South Charleston’s Jaz Martin, giving the South a 3-1 lead.
The North scored a run in the top of the fourth on an RBI single by Parkersburg’s Brittany Allison.
The South regained control in the bottom of the inning when Isaacs delivered an RBI triple, Markham added an RBI double and Davis had an RBI single. The three runs brought the score to its 6-2 final, giving the South the sweep.
The North’s Allison and the South’s Allison Rager of Herbert Hoover were selected as the final game’s MVPs.
Rager enjoyed the experience, but most of all hopes her fellow Huskies follow in her footsteps.
“Today I finished my four years off with a great South team. It was fun to finish my career with these girls I’ve played with and against my entire life,” she said. “I am glad I could bring what I did to Hoover in four years and hopefully they can continue their success.”
Burdette said the end of her high school career is a bittersweet feeling.
“It’s pretty sad. I was sad to graduate and not be with my team anymore, but I am also pretty excited to experience softball at the next level,” she said. “It’s really lucky to finish here. Buffalo has such great facilities and to have other schools come down to play with each other is great.”
In the three games, Burdette led the South with three RBIs and a home run, Davis put together three RBIs and two doubles, Martin and Markham added two RBIs and a double each and Isaacs finished with an RBI, triple and two doubles.
The North was paced by Taylor with two RBIs and a double and Robinson with two RBIs.