BLOOMSBURG, Pa. – Emma Hipps came within one strike of a perfect game while also hitting a home run to help D9 champion Clearfield to the PIAA Class 4A semifinals with a 4-0 win over District 3 champion Hamburg at Central Columbia High School in Bloomsburg.
Hipps’s bid for perfection ended when Hailey Strunk hit a 2-2 pitch into right field that was dropped by right fielder Alexis Benton putting Strunk at second base, and her bid for a no-hitter ended a batter later when Katie Behler ripped a single to center to put runners on the corner.
But the senior hurler heading to PennWest Clarion ended the drama by striking out Anabel Kennedy for her 15th strikeout of the game.
“She was on,” Clearfield head coach Derek Danver said. “She was dealing. They have some really good hitters. She was in command the whole time. She was changing speed, changing location.”
Hipps provided the offense for the Lady Bison as well going 2-for-3 with a home run, a run scored, and two RBIs.
Her home run in the fifth should have been a three-run home run but ended up a two-run home run after Alexis Cole failed to touch home plate.
There were no outs at the time, and originally Hipps was awarded third base before a lengthy discussion occurred, according to Danver, and she was granted the home run but a two-run homer instead of a three-run dinger.
The home run but Clearfield up 3-0.
The Lady Bison scored their fourth run later in the inning when Lauren Ressler doubled and scored when Olivia Bender’s fly ball was dropped.
With Hipps dealing in the circle, Clearfield broke the ice in the bottom of the first when Hipps led off the inning with a single, Ressler grounded into a fielder’s choice erasing Hipps at second for the second out, Bender reached on an error, and Alaina Fedder singled to left.
Benton also had a pair of hits going 2-for-3 with a run scored for Clearfield.
Strunk took the loss going six innings allowing four runs, two earned, on eight hits while striking out one.
Clearfield advances to the semifinals for the second time since 2019 when it reached the 3A semifinals.
“It means a lot,” Danver said. “After last year, some people might have thought it was a fluke us making it in 2019 when all the seniors were freshmen. It proves how good this team is and how good these players are. It’s big.”
The Lady Bison have no easy task in the semifinals, as defending PIAA 4A champion Beaver awaits.
Beaver is 21-0 on the season after a 3-0 win over WPIAL third-place finisher Burrell. The Bobcats have won 41 in a row since losing to South Park, 5-4, May 20, 2019, in the WPIAL Class 3A quarterfinals (there was no season in 2020).
“On paper, the last time we were in the semifinals we were a heavy underdog to Bald Eagle Area and lost 1-0,” Danver siad. “We need to take the same mentality into this game. I know they have won every game, but they aren’t unbeatable. I know they are good. It will take a complete effort out of us. It is something I think we can do. We have been there before and lost a heartbreaker before. That is something they remember and will take into the game Monday.”
On the other half of the bracket, District 2 champion Tunkhannock beat District 12 champion Archbishop Wood, 10-0, in five innings and District 1 champion Villa Joseph Maria topped District 11 champion Bethlehem Catholic, 6-0.
AVONWORTH 7, KARNS CITY 4
MARS, Pa. – Layne Shisky’s two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the fifth inning broke open a one-run game and helped Avonworth beat D9 champion Karns City, 7-4, in the second round of the PIAA Class 3A playoffs at Mars.
Karns City had battled back from a 5-1 deficit after three innings to get within one, 5-4, thanks to a run in the fourth and two more in the fifth.
The fifth-inning runs scored on a two-out double by Rossi McMillen.
But the Lady Gremlins had turned to their bullpen and reliever Ally Walker after starter Marra Patton struggled allowing five runs in three innings.
After retiring the first four batters she faced, Walker allowed a one-out single to Rylee Gray and then issued back-to-back walks to Cat Barie and Cassie Heihauer to load the bases.
A pop up to first baseman Megan Whitmire by Emma Obersteiner gave Karns City a chance to get out of the jame, but Shivsky grounded a 1-0 pitch into left field to score the two crucial insurance runs.
Up three, Alivia Lantzy went into cruise control retiring six in a row from the fifth through the seventh before McMillen’s two-out infield single gave the Lady Gremlins a bit of life with a runner on second following an error on the shortstop.
But Marra Patton went down swinging to end the game.
Avonworth struck for its five runs against Marra Patton by scoring twice in the second and three more times in the third.
Gray led off the second with a solo home run to center, and Shisky had a two-out RBI double in the inning.
Then in the third, after Karns City got a run back in the top of the inning, a two-out double by Barie scored a pair of runs, and Heihauer followed with an RBI single to make it 5-1.
McMillen, who had three RBIs on the day, started the scoring for the Lady Gremlins with a two-out infield single to the circle in the third, and then Karns City added a run in the fourth when Jess Dunn led off with a triple and scored on a Whitmire groundout.
The Lady Gremlins had just five hits off Lantzy, who went seven innings giving up four runs, three earned. She walked four and struck out eight.
McMillen had three of those hits going 3-for-3 with the double and three RBIs. Ashley Fox walked once and scored twice for the Lady Gremlins, and Zoe King was 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored.
Shisky paced Avonworth going 2-for-3 with a double and three RBIs with Gray going 2-for-4 with the home run, two runs scored, and an RBI/ Barie was 1-for-2 with a double, two walks, two RBIs, and three runs scored.
Marra Patton took the loss going three innings allowing five earned runs on five hits and four walks while striking out one. Walker pitched three innings allowing two earned runs on four hits and two walks.
Avonworth, the WPIAL champion, will take on District 6 champion Bald Eagle Area, a 3-0 winner over WPIAL runner-up Deer Lakes, in the semifinals Monday. In the eastern half of the bracket, District 11 champion Palmerton beat District 3 runner-up Susquenita, 6-4, and District 4 champion Lewisburg topped District 3 champion Kutztown, 7-2.
NESHANNOCK 14, JOHNSONBURG 0, 5 INNINGS
DUBOIS, Pa. – With the top-third of its lineup collecting eight hits and 10 RBIs, unbeaten WPIAL champion Neshannock rolled past D9 champion Johnsonburg, 14-0, in five innings in the PIAA Class 2A second round.
Leadoff hitter Neleh Nogay was 3-for-3 with a walk, three RBIs, and four runs scored, No. 2 hitter Aaralyn Nogay was 4-for-4 with a triple, three runs scored, and four RBIs, and No. 3 hitter Addy Frye was 1-for-4 with a double, and three RBIs.
The Lancers, who were already leading 5-0 going to the third, used a seven-run third inning to put the game away.
While Neshannock was scoring plenty of runs, Frye, just a freshman, was shutting down the Johnsonburg offense limiting the Ramettes to just three hits. She went five innings of shutout ball striking out five while not walking a batter.
Natalie Dunworth, Jenna Kasmierski, and Julie Peterson had hte hits for Johnsonburg.
Peterson took the loss going four innings allowing 14 runs, 11 earned, on 12 hits, three walks, and a hit batter while striking out two.
Neshannock will take on WPIAL third-place finisher Laurel, a 5-0 winner over District 5 champion Everett, in the semifinals Monday. Neshannock beat Laurel, 1-0, in eight innings in the WPIAL semifinals May 25.
In the other half of the bracket, District 6 runner-up Clasyburg-Kimmel topped District 4 champion Williamsport, 2-0, and District 12 champion Conwell-Egan defeated District 6 champion Southern Huntingdon, 7-5.