2022 Trib HSSN Softball Player of the Year: Beaver’s Payton List
Monday, June 27, 2022 | 1:58 PM
2022 Trib HSSN Softball Player of the Year
There are several ways to measure athletic ability.
There’s the modern day analytics, using a player’s statistics to help determine their level of greatness.
Then there is the old-school eye test. Find folks who know the sport in and out, have them study that player, and then turn that information into another tool to determine a player’s ability.
Whatever method you use to gauge elite players in WPIAL softball these past two seasons, Beaver senior pitcher Payton List is at the top of everybody’s list.
For the second straight year, List has been named the Trib HSSN Softball Player of the Year.
“She is a generational player,” Beaver coach Amy Haggart said. “I have talked to many people who are sports historians in Beaver County, and they believe her to be one of the most dominant female athletes to ever come out of Western Pa. She fundamentally is going to change the Beaver softball program for the foreseeable future. The little kids who stood outside of our parades in town just wanting to see her. The youth looks up to her and strives to be her every day.”
Her pitching stats are jaw dropping.
She was 18-1 in 134 2/3 innings pitched, with a 0.36 ERA, .609 WHIP, 271 strikeouts and 39 walks. Opposing hitters had a .093 batting average against her.
List was far from a one-trick pony though. As dominant as she was in the circle, her numbers are strong when she was in the batter’s box as well.
She batted .590 with an on-base percentage of .684 and a slugging percentage of 1.311.
She had 36 hits in 61 at-bats with 10 doubles, two triples, 10 home runs, 42 runs scored and 24 RBIs with only four strikeouts.
“Payton was dominant on the mound and at the plate as well,” Haggart said. “She was focused and really helped to lead her team this year. She stepped it up as a true leader on the team. In my opinion she is the most valuable player not only in Western Pennsylvania, but in the state as well. She did more for her team than virtually any other pitcher or player this year.”
Haggart may be a tad biased, having coached List in her incredible scholastic career. But what do some of the other coaches around WPIAL Class 4A softball think of List?
Elizabeth Forward coach Harry Rutherford, whose team lost to Beaver in the 2021 PIAA quarterfinals and 2022 WPIAL championship game, said “She has college level pitching speed with great movement as a high schooler. Not many players have achieved that, and my teams have played against Bailey Parshall and Nicole Sleith, who both had excellent careers in college. She is also one of the best fielding pitchers that we have played against. My teams have faced many great hitters over the years, and I think I would put Payton in the top five hitters I have seen in my career as a coach.”
Highlands coach Jenn Koprivikar, whose team lost to Beaver in the 2021 WPIAL championship game, also had high praise for List.
“Peyton is definitely the best pitcher we have faced here at Highlands,” she said. “She controls the game and stays cool under pressure. I know that she was not 100% at some point over the summer and she was able to take care of herself and get back to having the season that she had. She faces every batter fearlessly and always wants the ball.”
Montour coach Ken Kutchman’s team lost to section foe Beaver three times this season, including in the WPIAL semifinals.
He said, “What makes her so good on the mound is not just her speed, but her accuracy with multiple pitches. She can move all of her pitches wherever she wants them with overpowering speed. She is the best pitcher I have coached against since Nicole Sleith pitched for Yough.”
Blackhawk coach Jim Riggio, whose teams were 0-4 against Beaver in Section 3-4A play these last two seasons, added: “I think what makes Payton so good is that she handles herself very well on the mound and that when you hear her talk or see quotes in the paper, she knows how to pitch. She moves the ball all around the plate and rarely does she throw a pitch down the middle of the plate and stays away from the big part of the bat. It helps that she has dominant stuff. In my almost 15 years of being an assistant and head coach at the high school level, she is by far the best softball player I have coached against. It was truly an honor to coach against her.”
As a freshman in 2019, Beaver finished 13-5 and reached the district quarterfinals. Since then, the Bobcats have taken the golden path to back-to-back WPIAL Class 4A titles, a 42-game winning streak and a 2021 PIAA championship.
List took time for a Player of the Year Q&A:
How tough was it to fall short of repeating as state champions and how it played out in the semifinals loss to Clearfield?
It was really hard because I know we were definitely the better team. We just got into a little hitting slump at the end. The loss was pretty hard, but in the end, the younger girls learned a lesson which will make them better the next couple seasons.
You had 20 strikeouts in the state semifinals win over Burrell. How locked in were you going up against another good pitcher in Katie Armstrong?
Seeing on Twitter the day before of our stats, and seeing she was doing better than me, personally I wanted to prove that I was better in my mind. I was pretty locked in, plus it was a big game we needed to win. I was locked in a soon as I saw the Twitter post.
Does facing another top pitcher or a team with a loaded lineup motivate you more?
Yes, it definitely does pump me up more. I go into to every game with a good mindset, but going into to those games I make myself go in with a super confident mindset, and I always like to show myself I can be better than whoever I want to be better than. It just comes with the work.
What was the feeling after the final out after beating Elizabeth Forward in the WPIAL title game?
It felt super great. I think a lot of people didn’t think we could do it since we lost a good amount of seniors, but we proved them wrong and the younger girls stepped up for sure. That final out was nice. Even though we had a lead the whole time, you still never know what can happen, but the last out felt amazing.
How was that feeling the same or different from when you won the WPIAL last spring?
In the EF game, it was exciting, but we also beat them 6-0, so like it was not a nail-biting game. But the Highlands game was a nail-biting game going into extra innings. I definitely had to be way more locked in for the Highlands game.
Besides winning the championships, what made 2022 special for you?
Beating Montour three times. Beating them the third time and hitting two homers really set the pace of the game, so that was my favorite moment.
How proud are you for building that winning streak to 42 in a row? Was it something you and your teammates talked about?
It was really cool being able to build that up, knowing I had a team that could back me up anytime I needed them too. We never talked about it though. I’m sure we all had our individual thoughts, but never said anything about it out loud.
Are you excited or nervous about the transition from high school to college?
I am super excited. I know college holds so many opportunities, plus I get to meet so many new people and just have a blast doing the things I love.
What’s your favorite pizza topping and your pizza place of choice?
I would probably just say cheese. I like white pizza, so just oil, garlic and cheese, maybe some banana peppers on it would be my favorite topping. I probably have to say Tussca Pizza.
What’s your favorite type of music and top three performers/groups/bands on your hit list?
I like older music, so my playlist has a good amount of older classic songs. One of my favorite bands is probably Queen. I love the song, “Piano Man” by Billy Joel. I like Fleetwood Mac, Garth Brooks. I like that type of music. “Girl Crush” is another one of my favorite songs.”
What famous person from history would you have liked to have dined and chatted with?
Babe Ruth, so I could get all his hitting tips. Even though they may be outdated, he still was one of the greatest hitters, so he was doing something right.
How long could you go without your phone?
I could go a while without my phone, as long as I’m doing something. If I’m just sitting there doing nothing, then I will want my phone.
Rank them: summer, autumn, winter, spring?
Summer, winter, autumn, spring.
• • • • •
Trib HSSN Postseason Awards
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• Breaking down changes to the 2023-24 WPIAL softball alignment
• Beaver’s Payton List tabbed Trib HSSN Girls Athlete of the Year
• Westmoreland notebook: Belle Vernon slugger Maren Metikosh class of 4A softball