Beaver Area shakes off Highlands rally, walks off with WPIAL softball crown

Wednesday, June 2, 2021 | 9:53 PM

The first three WPIAL softball championship games played at Cal (Pa.) on Wednesday ended by way of the mercy rule, with the winning teams scoring 17, 15 and 12 runs.

The nightcap between Highlands and Beaver Area for the Class 4A title was much closer.

In a pitchers’ duel between Bobcats junior Payton List and Golden Rams junior Jaycee Haidze, the game came down to the bottom of the seventh.

A two-out single from Kayla Cornell and an error by the Highlands right fielder allowed pinch runner Ashlee Karas to score from first base, giving Beaver a dramatic 2-1 victory over the Golden Rams.

“It is awesome,” Beaver coach Amy Haggert said. “This group of seniors, they were freshmen my first year. This has been our goal since I started. Having the group we have, the five seniors and upperclassmen, and having Payton (in the circle), it means everything.”

Beaver (17-0) is a WPIAL champion in softball for the first time since it claimed the Class AA crown in 2014.

The Bobcats hope to remain undefeated as it enters the PIAA playoffs. They will face the third-place team from District 3 — either East Pennsboro or Eastern York — in the first round on Monday.

The District 3 third-place game is Thursday at 4:30 p.m.

Highlands, playing in its first WPIAL softball championship game, fell to 16-5. The Golden Rams now turn their attention to the PIAA playoffs and a first-round game against District 9 champion Clearfield at a site and time to be determined.

“This was tough, but the girls are good to go (for states),” Highlands coach Jen Koprivnikar said.

Beaver was an out away from victory in the top of the seventh, but Highlands, as it did in the late innings against No. 1 Elizabeth Forward in the semifinals, was able to get the tying run home.

Abbie Deiseroth led off the inning by reaching on an fielding error. She advanced to second on a passed ball.

With two outs, Maera Williams popped a ball up in the infield. Beaver first baseman Emilee Hohenshel camped under the ball, but she was not able to make the catch, and Deiseroth scored.

“I was a little shocked because that hasn’t happened to us yet this year,” Haggert said. “But it just shows you that everyone is human, and we can make mistakes. But we were able to bounce back. I have faith in this team with our hitting. I knew we were going to get that big hit when we needed it the most.”

Beaver finished with seven hits, several of them of the infield variety, off Haidze.

Haidze struck out nine and walked just two. She and the Golden Rams defense stranded 10 baserunners.

Highlands committed five errors, and both Beaver runs were unearned.

“Our team usually doesn’t commit those errors, but they did today,” Koprivnikar said. “But (Jaycee) got us out of (tough situations) and then we were up for the next at-bat.”

List gave up just one hit to a potent Golden Rams lineup, a one-out single to Kassidy Cambal in the fourth. Highlands got leadoff hitter Joie Beacom to third after a walk in the top of the first, but List struck out the final two batters of the frame to leave Beacom stranded.

List, a junior Virginia Tech recruit, struck out 12.

“Coming into this, actually, I wasn’t very confident because the past two playoff games I wasn’t pitching as well as normal,” List said.

“I definitely spent the past two days really working on my spins. So coming in and shutting them down a little bit definitely felt great. I definitely felt like I helped my team by doing my part.”

Watch an archived video stream broadcast of this game on Trib HSSN.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at or via Twitter .

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