LORETTO – The comeback kids. Clearfield has found themselves down several times in these state playoffs, but never out. Again, this mentality kept them around in a pitcher’s duel between two of the state’s best arms in Payton List and Emma Hipps. In this one, the Lady Bison proved, as well as Emma Hipps, that they’re a foe not to be messed with as the Lady Bison took down favored Beaver Area 2-1 to reach the state championship game.
With Beaver riding a 42-game winning streak, including winning two-straight WPIAL titles and a state title in 2021, none of that mattered Monday as Clearfield proved it is play, not paper, that wins games.
“I’ve been saying it, but my girls are absolute gamers,” said Lady Bison Head Coach Derek Danver. “If it comes down to the end of the game and needing a couple runs, they’re going to do what they need to do to get the job done and push the runs across. They show up in the biggest moments, something they’ve done since the beginning of their careers. It was very like them to do what they did tonight.”
As expected by many, it was a low-scoring affair that came down to which team could get more hits. Clearfield rose to the challenge and recorded five hits to Beaver’s four. No hit was bigger than the game winning infield single off the bat of Ruby Singleton, who went 2-4 at the plate, to help pace the Lady Bison to victory offensively Monday afternoon.
With the bases full of Lady Bison and with two outs, Singleton connected on a groundball up the middle which was fielded just beyond second base and it allowed Emma Hipps to beat the ball to second for the force play. The hit allowed Alexis Benton, who started the rally after getting hit by a pitch with two outs, to score from third and send the Clearfield faithful home happy with a 2-1 victory.
To get there, it was far from easy as the Lady Bison didn’t find their way into the scoring column until the home half of the sixth inning. For much of the game, they trailed 1-0 as Beaver scored their lone run in the top of the third inning. Hipps struck out the first two batters she faced in the third, but then intentionally walked Payton List to try to set up a more favorable matchup at the plate.
Taylor Young, from the Lady Bobcats, rose to the occasion and singled to keep the inning alive. Next, Sami Springman singled for Beaver to score List and give Beaver the narrow one-run lead.
After this small blemish, Hipps would not let up, finishing the game retiring the last 11 batters she faced. Thankfully, the rest of the Lady Bison did not give in to the adversity they faced either, using two consecutive two-out rallies to manufacture the two runs they needed to win the game.
In the bottom of the sixth, Lauren Ressler doubled down the left field line with two outs to keep the inning alive. Cleanup batter Olivia Bender came through with an RBI single to left to score Ressler and knot the game at 1-1. On the throw, Bender moved up to second, but Beaver held the Lady Bison to just one run for this half-inning and stranded Bender in scoring position.
After Hipps struck out the side in the seventh, it appeared all the momentum was sticking with Clearfield. However, Payton List had other plans early in the bottom of the seventh as she got two outs and appeared to be grooving to force extra innings. But that’s when Benton did her job and kept the game alive after being hit by the 2-1 pitch.
Alexis Cole was the next Lady Bison to come through with two-outs as she singled to right field to put two on with two away. With Hipps up, Beaver intentionally walked the senior to set up the force at any base and bring Singleton up to bat.
Already having one hit for the game, her second of the game would be the biggest in her varsity career to date as the infield single allowed Benton to cross the plate and begin the celebration of defeating the defending state champions.
“Again, this rally started with the bottom of our lineup. Benton got hit by the pitch, and she takes pride in that. A free base every time, she says. Alexis Cole then came up with a single. I have all the confidence in the world with Hipps at the plate, but they walked her. That brought up Ruby (Singleton), someone I have an equal amount of confidence in at the plate, and she came up huge.”
Riding the high of shocking the state, Clearfield still has one big game left, the state title game. Again, it will be at a location that’s practically in their backyard. Friday, June 17 will see the Lady Bison travel to Centre County to play at Penn State’s Beard Field. Their opponent is 2021 state runner-up, Tunkhannock, who is 20-6 coming into play Friday afternoon. The Lady Tigers defeated Villa Josepha Marie 13-0 to reach the state title game again in 2022, but more impressively, they’ve outscored opponents 25-1 in the state playoffs and are winners of five straight come into the matchup vs. Clearfield.
“We’ve made it this far, and this is what we have been going after. There is no letup now. We have gold medals in our vision and we are going to go give it everything we can. Tunkhannock is a good team, and this is a familiar territory for them. They were in the state championship last year. They lost to Beaver in extra innings. But we are going to prepare and we will be ready to play just like we did today.”
BEAVER – 1
Payton List (P) 2100, Taylor Young (2B) 3010, Sami Springman (C) 3011, Hanna Crowe (SS) 2010, Kayla Cornell (3B) 3000, Chloe List (CF) 3000, Grace Thompson (1B) 3010, Alexandria Slipko (LF) 3000, Ashlee Karas (RF) 3000. TOTALS 25 1 4 1.
TB: Taylor Young, Sami Springman, Hanna Crowe, Grace Thompson
RBI: Sami Springman
FC: Chloe List
CLEARFIELD – 2
Emma Hipps (P) 3000, Ruby Singleton (CF) 4021, Lauren Ressler, 3110, Alaina Fedder (SS) 2000, Alexis Bumbarger (3B) 3000, Kylee Hertlein (2B) 1000, Alexis Benton (RF) 2100, Alexis Cole (DP) 3010, Anna Twigg (LF) 0000. TOTALS 24 2 5 2.
2B: Lauren Ressler
TB: Olivia Bender, Alexis Cole, Lauren Ressler 2, Ruby Singleton 2
RBI: Olivia Bender, Ruby Singleton
HBP: Alexis Benton
Score by Inning
Beaver 0 0 1 0 0 0 0.
Clearfield 0 0 0 0 0 1 1.
Emma Hipps 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K.
Payton List 6 2/3 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 8 K.
W – Emma Hipps (20-2). L – Payton List (19-1).