Buffenbarger Carries No-Hitter into 6th Inning in 4-0 Mason Win against Lakota East
Eric Michael | Staff Writer
It was a pitcher’s duel from the opening batter, but Mason came out on top, defeating Lakota East 4-0 in what was a battle between the top two teams in the GMC.
Starting pitcher Elle Buffenbarger said her team knew the game was going to be a shootout from the get-go.
“We knew we had to come in with more intensity than we do against lower teams that we play,” Buffenbarger said. “East is always really good, and they’re really intense and into the game, so we knew we had to work really hard.”
The game remained scoreless through the first few innings, but after an Erin Rockstroh RBI single scored Abbey Mullins in the bottom of the third, Mason started to pick up some momentum.
Lakota East went hitless for another inning in the top of the fourth, and a Brooke Rice single down the right field line scored Elana Harrison from second base to give the Comets a 2-0 lead. Mason scored again in the fifth inning, giving themselves a comfortable lead late in the game.
Lakota East’s Tara Manning singled to the left-center gap midway through the top of the sixth to end Buffenbarger’s no-hit bid; however, East failed to capitalize on this opportunity and could not advance Manning past first base. Buffenbarger said she wishes she could have pulled off the no-hitter, but her team’s win was the more important goal.
“I’ve had multiple games this year and last year that have been one and two hitters,” Buffenbarger said. “It’s just about staying focused, and you can’t take any batter for granted. So, yeah, I wish I would’ve gotten a no hitter, but the more important thing is that we won.”
Harrison started off the bottom of the sixth with a home run to deep center–her second of the season–moving her to the third place slot in the GMC for most home runs. Buffenbarger said the deep ball put East away for good and shut down any realistic chance of a comeback late in the game.
“Elana’s home run put the game away,” Buffenbarger said. “As soon as that (happened), East was done. They were getting frustrated, and Elana’s home run buried them.”
Buffenbarger struck out three batters in the seventh to cap off the complete game shutout. Her last strikeout was her tenth of the day, and Manning’s hit in the sixth was the only hit Buffenbarger gave up.
Buffenbarger said the win was a sign of good things to come and was a crucial victory in what could end up being one of the most important games of the season.
“They were number two in the city,” Buffengarger said. “We were like, ‘this game, and the next time we play them, will probably decide who wins the GMC.’ Knowing that we can beat them, and they got one hit and no runs is really exciting, because we know we can win the GMC if we keep playing hard.”
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Photos by Staff Writer Alyssa Brooks.