BUFFALO GAP – College softball and a degree in elementary education are in Sierra Clifton’s future.
The Buffalo Gap senior plans to attend Mary Baldwin College to play softball for the Squirrels while working towards a master’s degree.
“I’m looking forward to that,” she said. “Mary Baldwin is close to home and I can get a master’s (degree) in four years rather than five. And in softball, I hope to be in the outfield.”
Meanwhile, the talented senior is finishing up an outstanding career for the Bison, which encompasses three sports while also excelling in the classroom.
For her accomplishments, she has been selected as Buffalo Gap’s spring nominee for the City/County Student-Athlete of the Year award, sponsored by The News Leader.
Clifton has been a constant presence in team sports for the Bison and will have accumulated three letters each in volleyball and softball and two in winter track.
She has been a part of softball the longest, since she was 11 or 12 years old. Before that, she began playing T-ball in Churchville in the West Augusta Cal Ripken program, with youth baseball following.
In softball, she joined the Bison program as a jayvee in the eighth grade, advancing to the varsity as a sophomore. There have also been several years of travel ball, once the high school season had concluded.
Over the years, she has played a variety of positions, from catcher to second base to center field, a position she loves.
Between her team and individual sports, she likes the team ones the best.
“It gives you more of a challenge,” she said. “You are less worried about your own stats and more about the team being successful.”
Clifton began playing volleyball as a freshman, advancing from just being a front row player to full rotation.
“I like to be the middle hitter,” she said. “And I like everything about the front row. I can jump, and that helps me a lot.”
A varsity player since her sophomore season, she has twice earned all-Shenandoah District awards.
Clifton took up indoor track her junior year, participating in all three jumping events plus the 55-meter dash and a pair of relays.
“In the 55 I was second in the state, losing to Riverheads,” she said. “I like the 55 as well as the 4×200 relay.”
Before taking up indoor track, she had played basketball, giving up that sport after her sophomore season.
Academically, Clifton sports a 3.7 grade-point average which ranks her around 20th in a senior class of 130.
Her favorite subject area is history.
“I just like learning about how this world came to be, and what it is now,” she explained. Her most challenging class has been calculus.
Extracurricular activities have included the National Honor Society and the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America as a freshman.
Outside school, she teaches a toddler class at Goshen Baptist Church.
“I like helping them be better people,” she said.
Besides that, she does a lot of other church activities, such as Christmas caroling.
She has also gone with other Bison seniors to Churchville and Craigsville elementary schools. “We read to them and spend the day with them,” she said.
As a pastime, Clifton enjoys hunting and fishing.
“Since I was little, I go with my dad and mom,” she said. “The whole family particularly likes to go to Goshen Pass.”
The Bison will surely miss her talents.
“She’s one of the elite,” Gap athletic director Andrew Grove said. “No one is a stronger critic of herself than she is. She is a true athlete.”
Each public school from Augusta County, Staunton and Waynesboro selects fall, winter and spring nominees, then selects one finalist. One finalist will also be chosen from nominees made by area private schools.
Next: Burke Bender, Waynesboro