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Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 19, 2017

Epic 2A state softball championship ends with Regina's epic comeback

By Jeff Linder, The Gazette | Jul 24, 2017

FORT DODGE — Resignation had set in.

“I got to the dugout and thought, ‘Oh, God. It’s over. We didn’t get what we wanted,’” admitted Iowa City Regina pitcher Sarah Lehman.

Then the first two Regals reached base, and Lehman’s despair turned to renewed hope.

“I thought, ‘Maybe if I sit here in the same spot, we’ll keep the rally going,’” Lehman said. “I had to wipe away my tears, grab a bat and go.”

Moments after Eddyville EBF snapped a 1-1 stalemate with three runs in the top of the 16th inning, Regina answered with four in the bottom half and claimed the Class 2A state softball championship, 5-4, late Friday night at the Rogers Sports Complex.

It was the longest championship game in tournament history. And it will go down as unforgettable.

“It was stressful, and so exciting,” said first baseman Katie Bracken, whose grounder to the left side of the infield was misplayed, allowing the winning run to score.

“We were runners-up last year, and that made us want this even more. We were going to win this no matter what.”

No matter if they faced a 4-1 deficit with three outs to go. Maeve Dunne and Carrigan O’Connor opened the bottom of the 16th with back-to-back singles. And that’s about the time Lehman’s chin began to pick up.

Lauren Marth grounded out to second for the first out, then Emily Bonnett singled home a run and Emma Corkery did the same to make it 4-3.

“When I was on base, that’s when I was thinking we can do this,” Corkery said.

Jess Hunter followed with an RBI double to chase Bonnett home and tie the game. Lehman lined out, then Bracken’s grounder ended it after 3 hours, 24 minutes.

The championship is the third for Regina, which finished 30-11.

The Regals took home titles in 2011 and 2015, then came up short last year. They appeared destined for the same fate when EBF (32-9) snapped a 1-1 tie.

Taryn Swartz broke the tie with an RBI single, then eventually scored on a passed ball. Haegen Boyer’s sacrifice fly made it 4-1, and it appeared the Rockets had more than enough.

They didn’t.

Lehman was the all-tournament captain. She struck out 22 batters (an all-time state-tournament record), allowed 12 hits and walked seven, throwing more than 200 pitches.

Nineteen of the strikeouts came in the first eight innings.

Each team scored an unearned run early — the Rockets in the top of the first inning, the Regals in the bottom of the second.

And it remained 1-1 until the wild, wacky 16th.

EBF threatened in the ninth, when it had Darian Johnson at second base with one out.

But Madysen Wade popped up a bunt, Dunne dove for it behind the plate and doubled off Johnson, with Hunter racing in from center field to cover the base.

Regina nearly won it in the bottom of the 12th.

Taylor O’Connor led off with a single, then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt.

Paisley Gardner singled to center, but Reina Taylor gunned down O’Connor at the plate.

 

Regina 5, EBF 4 (16 innings)

Eddyville EBF 100 000 000 000 000 3 — 4 12 4

Iowa City Regina 010 000 000 000 000 4 — 5 16 2

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