High School Sports

Previewing the PIAA softball semifinal between Bald Eagle Area, Clearfield

BEA softball advances to state semifinals

Bald Eagle Area topped Keystone Oaks 4-2 in the quarterfinals of the PIAA Class 3A Softball Championships June 6 at St. Francis. The Lady Eagles advance to the semifinals where they’ll face Mountain League foe Clearfield on June 10.
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Bald Eagle Area topped Keystone Oaks 4-2 in the quarterfinals of the PIAA Class 3A Softball Championships June 6 at St. Francis. The Lady Eagles advance to the semifinals where they’ll face Mountain League foe Clearfield on June 10.

Bald Eagle Area softball will soon learn whether it’ll be watching the state championship game from the dugout or the bleachers.

The Lady Eagles will take on Clearfield at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Mount Aloysius in the semifinals of the PIAA Class 3A Softball Championships. (The game was originally scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday but was postponed to Tuesday.) The winner moves on to the state title game Friday at Penn State’s Beard Field, while the loser’s season is finished.

Here’s a closer look at the matchup:

Bald Eagle Area vs. Clearfield

Records: BEA 21-3; Clearfield 14-9

How they got here: BEA — The Lady Eagles entered the district tournament as the No. 2 seed out of eight teams. They beat Penn Cambria 2-1, Philipsburg-Osceola 8-4 and Chestnut Ridge 9-5 to win the title. In the PIAAs, BEA beat South Park 6-1 and Keystone Oaks 4-2. Clearfield — The Lady Bison entered the District 9 tournament as the No. 2 seed out of three teams. They beat Brookville 12-0 in the first round and then defeated Karns City, 5-1, to capture their first district championship since 2007 and advance to PIAAs. In the state tournament, Clearfield slipped past Chestnut Ridge 4-3 and edged out Avonworth 2-1.

Past meetings: March 26 — BEA wins 17-2; April 18 — BEA wins 9-0

Key players: BEA — P Madison Peters (139 IP, 1.56 ERA, 148 Ks, 23 BBs); OF Mara Hockenberry (440 BA, 22 SBs, 26 runs); OF Makena Baney (.342 BA, 12 SBs, 24 runs). Clearfield — P Emma Hipps (143 IP, 1.62 ERA, 228 Ks, 40 BBs and .427 BA, 6 HRs); C Olivia Bender (.347 batting average, 18 RBIs); 1B Lauren Ressler (.333 BA, 7 2Bs, 16 RBIs).

Key stats: BEA — Peters has walked just 4 percent of the batters she’s faced this season, and opponents are hitting just .182 against her. Clearfield — Since the start of May, which includes 10 games, Clearfield has allowed an average of just 1.9 runs per game.

What to know about Clearfield: The Lady Bison’s three key players are all freshmen. ... Despite Clearfield’s two losses to BEA, this is a different team from the first half of the season. In March and April, Clearfield was 6-7. In May and June, it’s been 8-2. ... If you take away Hipps, Clearfield is batting just .253 collectively as a team. (And .273 with her.) ... In Hipps’ first 10 games, she gave up 62 hits and 26 earned runs. In her last 10 games, she surrendered 35 hits and five earned runs ... Hipps threw at least 10 strikeouts in 14 of her 22 games.

What to know about Bald Eagle Area: The Lady Eagles have just one senior on their roster in 2B Kaleigh Kane. ... Six different players on BEA’s roster have hit home runs: Peters (5), Kinley (4), Maegan King (3), Maralee Caldana (3), Maddie Perry (1), Marina Shawley (1). .. Peters is 29-4 in her first two years as a varsity pitcher. ... BEA has scored at least six runs in 16 of its 21 games. ... On average, Peters is facing just 3.99 batters per inning. ... BEA’s three season losses came by a combined four runs.

What’s next: The winner will advance to the Class 3A softball championship game at 1:30 p.m. Friday at Penn State’s Beard Field. The winner will play the winner of other semifinal, between Pine Grove (26-0) and Bloomsburg (17-8), who will play at 4 p.m. Monday in Hazleton’s Drifton Softball Complex.

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