Softball: Buena Regional advances to South Jersey Group II final, again
BUENA VISTA TOWNSHIP - Coach Pam Pickett has lost track of how many times her Buena Regional High School softball team has reached the South Jersey Group II final.
Add one more to the list for seven, because Buena pulled away to beat visiting Woodstown 6-0 on Wednesday in their South Jersey semifinal game. Buena (25-4) is No. 9 in The Press Elite 11.
Catcher Ashley Surran was 3-for-4 with a triple and three runs for the Chiefs, and left fielder Becca Collins went 2-for-3 with a double, a triple and three RBIs. Buena sophomore Sam Fiocchi pitched a three-hitter.
"I told the team that they're making their own mark," Pickett said. "There's no need to say anything about last year, because some of these kids weren't there. They want to play six games (reach a state final), but they aren't looking past anyone."
Buena, the top seed, hosts third-seeded West Deptford at 4 p.m. Friday in the South Jersey Group II championship game. West Deptford blanked seventh-seeded Middle Township 5-0 Wednesday in the other semifinal.
The Chiefs will be in their third straight Group II sectional final. Buena lost to Sterling 1-0 in 2011 and was edged by Haddon Heights 2-1 last year.
Buena pushed across a run in the first inning, and got five straight hits in the fifth to score four more runs.
Surran beat out an infield single in the first inning, went to second on Stephanie Walsh's sacrifice bunt, and took third on the play on a throwing error. Janessa Rios hit a sacrifice fly to make it 1-0.
"We knew it would be a close game because Woodstown is a lot like us," said Surran, an 18-year-old senior from Estell Manor. "I feel like we're ready to close the deal (on the South Jersey title) because we're a different team than last year."
Fiocchi is 13-2, and plays third base and second base when not pitching. She struck out five and walked two on Wednesday.
"We came out hard and played the game we had to play, and we always have teamwork," said Fiocchi, 16, of Richland in Buena Vista Township. "With a 1-0 lead, I tried to stay calm, but I didn't want to get too relaxed. Knowing we have a great defense makes me a lot more comfortable."
Woodstown pitcher Haley Broomell kept the Chiefs from scoring again until the fifth inning, but then Buena started to pound the ball.
Surran singled to left to start the inning, and Walsh added a bloop single. Rios singled to right, scoring Surran. Collins hit a triple over the center fielder's head to make it 4-0. Carly Linus followed with a double to center and Collins scored.
"I didn't think it would be 1-0," Pickett said. "I told them about the fifth inning to get more quality at-bats, and pay more attention to what they're doing."
Buena made it 6-0 in the sixth inning when Surran tripled to left center field and scored on Collins' sacrifice fly.
"I think we kept our intensity up," said Collins, a 17-year-old senior from Collings Lakes. "We don't sit on a one-run lead. We're having a great season. We've worked well together, and in the rough games we've had each others' back."
Since Pickett took the helm in 1988, Buena has won the South Jersey championship twice, in 1989 and 1990. Besides the last two years, the Chiefs also made it to the final in 1994 and 2006.
Contact Guy Gargan:
Woodstown 000 000 0-0 3 3
Buena Regional 100 041-6 9 0
2B-B. Collins, Linus B. 3B-B. Collins, Surran B.
WP-Fiocchi 5k (13-2). LP-Broomell 2k.
Records-Woodstown 13-14; Buena 25-4.