BY AARON PATTERSON
Stepping into a new position isn’t always easy, especially as a relatively young softball player. Sometimes it takes a little bit of guts and a lot of confidence from coaches and teammates.
It took both guts and confidence on Monday, as well as three trips to the plate for sophomore Megan Burris to get comfortable as leadoff hitter for the Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman Buffaloes. And on her fourth trip, she came up with the biggest hit of her young career to boost her team to a 6-2 win over the Westville Tigers.
“I was nervous at first, but I feel like I can do it,” Burris said. “I feel like coach had a lot of confidence in me going up there and doing it as well.
“I haven’t been hitting the best this year, but moving up to the top might definitely boost my confidence.”
It was the first time this season Burris batted in the top spot, and though coach Stefanie Davis had plenty of confidence in moving her sophomore outfielder up from the sixth position, the move was made out of necessity because of an injury.
In the end, it made Davis look brilliant after Burris came up clutch to help keep the Buffaloes’ Vermilion Valley Conference record perfect.
The Tigers (6-4 overall, 4-2 in the VVC) were one out away from moving to the bottom of the sixth inning with a tied game when Burris stepped to the plate with runners on first and second.
In her previous three at bats, she had struck out, grounded out, and lined out to the first baseman. This time, though, she sent the first pitch of her at bat to right field scoring two runs and giving the Buffaloes a 4-2 lead.
GRFC sent a total of 10 batters to the plate in the inning, and scored a total of four.
“I was looking at my stats and noticed that she’s pretty consistent,” said Davis. “She’s 3-for-4 in most games, and she can get the bunt down. I was just looking at a variety of things (to help make the decision). I needed someone who I had confidence in that could start us off. I didn’t want to move around too much in my middle. I thought she would do a nice job up there, and she did a good job. I’m probably going to keep her there and see how it goes.”
Burris’ hit was crucial, as was Catie Brandt’s solo home run in the fourth which gave GRFC a 2-1 lead. The Buffaloes (10-1, 7-0) needed to take advantage of every opportunity possible as the Tigers did their best to limit GRFC’s chances by walking power hitter Brittany Hay four times. It proved costly, though, in the sixth when Hay’s free pass loaded the bases, and Brandt was then walked on five pitches to plate the fourth run of the inning.
“They got a big two-out hit,” Westville coach Shawn Skinner said. “That was the difference in the game. We didn’t get a two-out hit, and they did.
“I give their kids credit,” he added. “Their leadoff hitter came up with a big two-out hit and that’s what they needed. That’s what was going to have to happen to break this game open, and they got it.”
With so many rainouts and postponed games, the Tigers feel as though they are still in the mix for a possible conference title. Meanwhile, the Buffaloes felt a bit of relief in sweeping Westville and staying in contention to defend their VVC crown. But they know there is still plenty of work to be done.
“We know that every team that we’ve played so far is going to come back looking to get us,” Davis said. “I’ve been preaching to them, but they need to take it upon themselves. They work very well together as a team, and they have that confidence in themselves. They don’t take easily to making mistakes and losing. It feels really good to have that second win against them.”