List dominates as Beaver bests Highlands in PIAA Class 4A semifinal

Monday, June 14, 2021 | 7:12 PM

Runs and hits were at a premium when Highlands and Beaver met for the WPIAL Class 4A softball championship June 2.

It was shaping up the same way through five innings of Monday’s rematch in the PIAA semifinals at Mars.

Bobcats junior pitcher Payton List and her counterpart, Golden Rams junior Jaycee Haidze, matched each other and kept their opposition off the scoreboard.

But Beaver, the undefeated WPIAL champion, broke through in the bottom of the sixth and went on to a 4-0 victory to advance to its first state championship game.

“This feels so good,” said Bobcats senior center fielder Anna Blum, who hit a three-run homer as part of the sixth-inning offensive uprising.

“I’ve been to states once for tennis (doubles), but I’ve never been to a state finals.”

Beaver (20-0), which plays District 2 champion Tunkhannock/District 11 champion Bethlehem Catholic in the finals Thursday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. at Penn State, got on the board with one out in the sixth on back-to-back doubles from List and senior Emilee Hohenshel. The Bobcats had four hits in the sixth after managing just one over the first five against Haidze.

“It’s been a total team effort all year,” Blum said. “Payton is a great pitcher, and she has a defense behind her. If we can keep people from scoring and hit the ball, we should be good.”

Highlands, which defeated District 9 champion Clearfield and District 3 champion Bishop McDevitt after losing 2-1 to Beaver in the WPIAL title game at Cal (Pa.), capped its season at 18-6-1. It was the Golden Rams’ first trip to the PIAA semifinals in only the second trip to states in program history.

“These girls gave so much this season, and we were able to overcome so much,” Highlands coach Jen Koprivnikar said. “It just wasn’t our day for hitting. We had seven shots at it. Payton was tough. We just didn’t get the job done today.”

List was on point from the start.

She struck out eight of Highlands’ first 11 batters and didn’t allow a hit until Kassidy Cambal singled with one out in the fourth. It was the Golden Rams’ only hit.

Cambal, who also had her team’s only hit in the first game against Beaver, made it to third base on a pair of passed balls, but she was stranded there.

List finished with 15 strikeouts, one walk and one hit. She struck out the side in the top of the seventh to seal the victory.

“This kid keeps amazing me, how focused and how resilient she is,” Beaver coach Amy Haggart said of List.

“She doesn’t let anything get to her. She is just lights out. Just when I think they have a couple of baserunners here and there, she shuts them down. That’s been her all year.”

Koprivnikar said she was proud of how Haidze battled. In addition to giving up five hits, Haidze walked five. She struck out 10, giving her 68 in seven postseason games.

Before the sixth, Beaver’s only hit was a single from Kayla Cornell with two outs in the fourth.

“What we told the girls was to attack the first pitch,” Haggart said. “It was just the same message going into the sixth, to attack that first pitch, get on, make (Haidze) throw and tire her out. That’s what they did.”

Neither Highlands or Beaver committed an error Monday after the teams combined for seven in the first meeting.

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

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