MARS ― Most teams in the WPIAL know by now to not mess with Beaver Area softball standout Payton List. Prior to Wednesday’s Class 4A semifinal, it was clear that Montour was one of the few clubs that hadn’t received the memo.
Earlier in the season, List threw a no-hitter against Montour while battling through a stomach bug.
During that game, a student from the opposition happened to snap a photo of List getting sick in-between innings. Before the two teams met in the semifinals Wednesday, List says that photo was posted to social media by Montour fans, as an attempt to get her in her head.
Fast forward to the end of the game, and it was List and her teammates who would have the last laugh ― defeating the Spartans 6-1 at Mars Area High School to advance to the WPIAL Class 4A final.
“Jokes on them,” List said with a smile after the game. “They’re the ones who are sick now.”
It didn’t take long for List to send a message. After throwing a perfect top half of the first inning, she led off the bottom frame with a solo homer. As List rounded the bases, and then again as she took the mound the next inning, numerous Montour students could be heard taunting her, trying to break her focus from her.
Those taunts were silenced in the third inning, when on a 2-0 count where the No. 5 seeded Spartans were clearly trying to pitch around her, List connected on a fastball that mistakenly came across the strike zone. As the ball soared over the left field fence, the senior who’s normally all business turned on the flash.
A big bat-flip out of the box was followed by a few stars into the crowd as she rounded the bases. Then as she made her way to home plate, her teammates were waiting with a coordinated celebration.
Head coach Amy Haggart isn’t usually one for those type of antics, but on that day, against that opponent, in that situation, she decided to let things slide.
“I turned an eye to it,” Haggart said. “Payton is Payton. She showed them why she’s the player everyone talks about.”
List wouldn’t see another pitch for the remainder of the game. The next four runs scored by the Top-seeded Bobcats were manufactured by other members in the top half of the batting order, with freshmen Taylor Young and Sami Springman leading the charge.
Not only did the two newcomers produce, but they did so in the clutch. With the score 3-1 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Young delivered a big double to score a pair. Springman followed with a single to bring Young home.
Once again, a loud Montour fan section was silenced.
“When I got to second base, I just remember feeling super happy,” Young said. “I knew those two runs ended it. That was a big hit in a big game and I was happy to come through.”
The Bobcats advance once again to the WPIAL Class 4A final, where they’ll face No. 2 Elizabeth Forward at California University of Pennsylvania on Thursday, June 2. The matchup won’t be nearly as personal as the one against Montour, but Haggart’s team says it will take the field with the same amount of energy and determination.