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DUBOIS, Pa. – Locked in a championship duel, Clearfield’s Emma Hipps took matters into her own hands.
Hipps’ 2-run inside-the-park home run in the sixth inning proved to be the difference as the Bison bested St. Marys 3-1 for the District 9 Class 4A crown on Thursday at Heindl Memorial Field.
It’s the second consecutive D9 crown for the Lady Bison. They won in 2019 before COVID shut things down in 2020.
“I can’t even put it into words,” Hipps said. “It’s awesome.”
Re-watch the game:
A single run in the fourth inning actually looked as if it might hold.
After a lengthy at-bat, Hipps became the first baserunner of the game via error in the fourth inning. That was followed moments later by an RBI double off the bat of Olivia Bender.
“I had a long at-bat, I was working her and making her throw different pitches,” noted Hipps. “I think that really boosted everyone because she (Young) was mowing us down.”
At that point, it looked as if that may be enough, as Hipps and St. Marys’ Kendall Young combined to set down the first 18 batters of the game in order.
Hipps’ home run was a lined shot down the third base line that rattled around in the corner after Ruby Singleton singled off Young in another extended at-bat. That proved to be a theme as Young, who has been dominant throughout the entire season, had to battle through several long at-bats to Clearfield hitters.
“It’s something you don’t see on the stat sheet is the way they battle with two strikes,” said Clearfield coach Derek Danver. “A number of at-bats we battled, we fouled off a ton of pitches with two strikes and I think that wore on her (Young) a little bit.”
Hipps allowed just one hit through the first six innings, but Brianna Grotzinger led off the top of the seventh with a shot into the left-field bleachers to make it 3-1. Hipps was unfazed, as she retired the next three batters in order to give Clearfield the championship.
The highly-anticipated pitching matchup lived up to the billing, as Young had very few blemishes in her outing as well. She retired the first 10 batters she faced, eight via strikeout, and finished with 14 punchouts total.
Hipps, meanwhile, also set down 10 in a row to start the game before Olivia Eckels’ 1-out double in the fourth. She made a nice play on a hard-hit ball by Young for the second out and got a strikeout to get out of the inning unscathed.
“Like I like to say, she went out there and did her thing,” Danver said. “She had great command of the strike zone and it’s hard for hitters to catch up to. She’s been throwing great all year, but even better here toward the end of the year.”
Hipps finished with 11 strikeouts, two hits allowed, and one walk.
Young, meanwhile, finished with 13 strikeouts and five hits allowed without issuing a walk.
Up next for the Bison is a date with Somerset in a PIAA subregional with Somerset back at Heindl Field at 4 p.m. Tuesday, June 1.
“We’re going to enjoy this one and get back to work,” Danver said. “We’re not done yet.”
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