Bufkin shuts down Clarkdale with 20 K's
By By Rocky Higginbotham/The Meridian Star
April 20, 2001
With a rugged schedule, the Clarkdale fast-pitch softball team has faced plenty of high-profile pitchers this season.
But the Lady Bulldogs have faced none more dominating than Newton County's April Bufkin Thursday night.
Bufkin tossed a pair of one-hitters, mowing down Clarkdale as Newton County took 6-0 and 2-1 wins to sweep a best-of-three series from the Lady Bulldogs in the MHSAA Class 3A/2A/1A Region 3 championship.
Bufkin's numbers were nothing short of impressive.
In 14 innings Thursday, the senior right-hander allowed two hits and two walks, striking out 20 along the way. She threw 213 pitches, 142 of them for strikes.
Bufkin faced 47 batters in the sweep, just five more than the minimum, and her only allowed run came in the seventh inning of the second game.
Newton County, which improved to 34-2, hosts Pass Christian Saturday in the South State championship series with hopes of getting a chance to defend its state title April 28 at Brandon's Shiloh Park. The starting time has been tentatively set for 2 p.m.
Game 1: Newton County 6, Clarkdale 0: Bufkin fanned 12, the Lady Cougars played errorles ball and Newton County scratched out single runs in each of the first three innings.
Williamson lined a one-out single in the second and came home on a hit by Stephanie Airhart for a 2-0 Newton County lead, then Mapp drilled a towering RBI double in the sixth to push the Lady Cougars ahead 6-0.
Mapp finished 2-for-3 with a pair of runs scored and Airhart was 2-for-4 for Newton County. Krissi Harris and Suzanne Chaney each added one hit and one run scored, as well.
Morgan Wright had Clarkdale's only hit in the third inning on a pop-fly single, but afterward, Bufkin retired 13 of the next 14 hitters.
Freshman Emily Howard (21-6) and sophomore JorD'an Orr gave up one earned run each on the mound for Clarkdale.
Game 2: Newton County 2, Clarkdale 1: In the second game, Clarkdale's Lindsey Stamm reached on an infield hit in the first, but Bufkin didn't allow another baserunner until the seventh inning.
The Lady Cougars, the home team on the scoreboard in Game 2, broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the fifth. Betsy Clark's soft liner off the glove of a Clarkdale infielder gave Newton County its first hit of the game, and she was replaced by pinch runner Obreisha Davis.
Davis took second on a fielder's choice, and she and Williamson teammed up for a double steal to put runners on second and third with one out. Davis scored on Kristin Chaney's ground ball, and Williamson came home on an RBI groundout by Airhart.
Down 2-0, Clarkdale got its only run of the night in the top of the seventh when Stamm drew a walk and went all the way to third on a groundout. She scored on a wild pitch, but Bufkin got the next two hitters to nail down the win.
Clark's single was the only hit Newton County managed in the second game off Howard, who fanned four but still fell to 21-7.
Bufkin struck out eight in the second game and faced only 23 batters.
Rocky Higginbotham is the sports editor of The Meridian Star. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.