Lady Bison Facing Senior-Laden Foe in State Tourney Opener

HYDE — The Clearfield Area High School softball team will be seeking just the second state tournament victory in the program’s long history Monday, and to accomplish that mission the Lady Bison must overcome another opponent with plenty of experience in the PIAA Class AAA opener.

District 9 champions for the first time since 2007 the Lady Bison will play Chestnut Ridge (19-4) at 3 p.m. at Heindl Field in DuBois, and if the Lions’ lineup is the same as in their 9-5 loss to Bald Eagle Area in the Districts 5/6 title game Friday, seven seniors will be starting.

They are Attie Milliron in the circle, Alex Dunlap behind the plate, Sam Baney at first base, Makayla Weyant at shortstop, Kayla Diehl at third base, Kaitlyn Gibbner in left field and Lydia Mock in center field.

They will be joined by junior Jamie Emerick in right field and sophomore Isabella Wingard at second base.

The Lions entered their first season in the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference with 11 letterwinners and walked off with the title, winning 15 games in a row after splitting four games at a season-opening tourney in Virginia.

After Johnstown Bishop McCort halted their streak, 4-0, the Lions bounced back in the playoffs with wins over Penns Valley, 6-4, and Ligonier Valley, 7-1, before bumping into BEA.

Extra base hits accounted for all their runs off Eagles’ ace Madison Peters, Mock with a two-run homer, Diehl with a two-run triple and Weyant with a solo homer.

“They hit the ball pretty well against Peters, and she’s a pretty good pitcher,” said Clearfield coach Derek Danver, who watched the Lions play BEA. “They’re athletic, and they put the ball in play.”

Weyant led the way against Ligonier Valley with three hits, one a homer, and three RBIs, while Mock and Dunlap had a pair of singles apiece and Diehl added a triple.

Milliron and Diehl have handled the pitching chores the last two seasons, and the latter also was the loser in 2017 when Karns City scored four runs in the seventh inning to end Chestnut Ridge’s season in the District 5/9 Class AAA Playoffs.

Last year, when Diehl was 9-3 and Milliron 6-0, Chestnut Ridge fell in the District 5 semifinals to Everett, which then lost to Karns City 6-2.

The Lady Bison went against several of those same Karns City players in the District 9 championship game last week and came out on top 5-1 with Emma Hipps pitching a five-hitter and striking out nine and Olivia Bender and Alexis Benton driving in two runs apiece.

Results against Penns Valley and Bald Eagle Area offer the only comparison between Clearfield and Chestnut Ridge.

The Lady Bison had to contend with both teams in the Mountain League and split with the Rams, winning 4-1 after losing 4-3, but lost 17-2 and 8-0 to the Eagles in the only games all season in which they weren’t really competitive.

Clearfield (12-9) will be banking on Hipps (11-9), who has allowed one or no earned runs in the last eight of her 20 starts to lower her ERA from 2.62 to 1.74. She has amassed a program-record 209 strikeouts in 129 innings.

She also leads the Lady Bison in hitting at .435, hits with 20, RBIs with 30 and runs with 25.

Two other freshmen enjoying banner seasons at the plate are catcher Bender, .373 with 25 hits and 16 RBIs, and first baseman Lauren Ressler, .353 with 24 hits and 14 RBIs.

Other starters will be Kylee Hertlein at second base, Kyra Mollura at shortstop and Casey English at third base, Morgan Cheek (.226) in left field, lone senior Karly Rumsky (.269) in center field and Alexis Benton in right field.

“We have to play good defense and have some good at-bats,” Danver said.

The winner will see either District 7 champion Avonworth (20-2) or District 10 runner-up Fort LeBoeuf (13-10) in the second round Thursday.

Lady Bison Scoreboard:

Date Opponent Score Record
3/25 @ Bald Eagle Area 10 – 1 1 – 0
3/28 @ Huntingdon 6 – 8 1 – 1
4/02 PHILIPSBURG-OSCEOLA 1 – 2 1 – 2
4/04 CURWENSVILLE 5 – 2 2 – 2
4/05 @ Tyrone ppd. 2 – 2
4/06 @ Tyrone 2 – 3, 9 inn. 2 – 3
4/08 PENNS VALLEY 6 – 2 3 – 3
4/09 BROOKVILLE 22 – 12 4 – 3
4/11 @ Central 10 – 4 5 – 3
4/16 BELLEFONTE ppd. 5 – 3
4/17 @ Bellefonte 0 – 8 5 – 4
4/18 BALD EAGLE AREA 4 – 2 6 – 4
4/23 HUNTINGDON 6 – 4 7 – 4
4/25 @ Philipsburg-Osceola 3 – 4 7 – 5
4/29 PUNXSUTAWNEY 5 – 6 7 – 6
4/30 TYRONE 3 – 13 7 – 7
5/03 @ Penns Valley 4 – 3 8 – 7
5/06 CENTRAL ppd. 8 – 7
5/07 CENTRAL 5 – 10 8 – 8
5/08 @ Bradford 2 – 1 9 – 8
5/09 BELLEFONTE 10 – 23 9 – 9
5/13 @ Curwensville ppd. 9 – 9
5/16 @ Curwensville 13 – 0 10 – 9
5/17 @ DuBois 8 – 0 11 – 9
5/23 District 9 AAAA Playoffs
5/23 vs. St. Marys @ DuBois 5 – 1 12 – 9
5/29 vs. Punxsy @ DuBois 3 – 5 12 – 10
6/03 PIAA Inter-Districts
6/03 vs. Chestnut Ridge @ DuBois

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