FORT DODGE, Ia. – Sarah Lehman was back to her postseason mastery on Thursday and Regina is back in the Class 2A title game because of it.
Lehman struck out eight in a complete game as No. 10 Regina (25-14) downed top-ranked Fort Dodge St. Edmond 4-1 in the semifinals of the 2A state tournament at Rogers Sports Complex in Fort Dodge.
The sophomore scattered seven hits but limited St. Edmond (29-8) to a single run as Regina advanced to the 2A title game for the first time since winning the 2011 crown.
“That is what we are expecting from Sarah this time of year,” Regina shortstop Kennedy Brown said of Lehman. “She’s been amazing. Anytime she is in there, I have total confidence in her.”
Madi Scott had a pair of hits and drove in two runs and Regina took advantage of three St. Edmond errors that led to four unearned runs while running its winning streak to six.
Regina will face River Valley Conference foe Cascade (24-10) at 10 a.m. in the Class 2A title game.
“This is a huge step for us,” Regina center fielder Jenny Wick said. “We’ve got one more game to go, now we just have to finish it.”
Regina made sure it finished on Thursday, but it was the way the Regals started that set the tone.
Following a scoreless first inning, Regina took a 2-0 lead in the second when Scott lined a leadoff single and Hannah Stein drew a one-out walk.
After a sacrifice bunt, both runners scored when Lauren Clapp’s groundball skipped past St. Edmond shortstop Anna Yung.
“That was very important. We don’t get leads very often on good teams, we have to come from behind to win so that was very important,” Regina coach Jon Prottsman said. “We got those two runs and I watched the bench of Fort Dodge and they went from fired up and jubilation and screaming to nothing in one inning.”
Pitching with a lead, Lehman continued her impressive postseason, with her fifth consecutive strong performance.
The right-hander didn’t allow a runner past second base until Yung scored the Gaels only run on a Brigid Hanley single in the sixth.
“Our defense has been really good and I just want to do this for my team,” Lehman said. “When we got those runs I was just like ‘thank you.’ It was so much easier to pitch with a lead.”
Lehman improved to 16-8 on the season with the win and has posted a .72 ERA with 51 strikeouts in 39 postseason innings.
Thursday’s performance came after Lehman limited eighth-ranked Durant to two hits over 10 innings in a 2-1 quarterfinal win.
Lehman has yet to allow more than two earned runs in any of her five postseason starts.
“I think she has a lot more confidence in herself,” Prottsman said. “She has enough confidence in her defense that she knows all she has to do is keep the ball around the plate and they will get outs for me.”
Regina did plenty behind Lehman on Thursday.
The Regals added single runs in the third and fifth as Scott drove in runs.
Scott doubled in Wick in the fifth and her groundball scored Cammy Verducci to make it 4-0 Regina in the fifth.
“Today, everybody stepped up,” Brown said. “We got hits when we needed them.”
That was more than enough for Lehman who fanned three in the final two innings to secure the win.
St. Edmond, which set a 2A tournament record with seven stolen bases in its quarterfinal win over Interstate-35 and led was second in 2A in steals, had one stole base in the first inning against Regina on Thursday.
“The first thing we said is we know they have great speed, we know they want to run but if they don’t get on base they aren’t doing that,” Prottsman said. “That was a key.”
Reach Ryan Murken at 319-339-7369 or firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @rmmurken.
St. Edmond 000 001 0 – 1 6 3
Regina 021 010 x – 4 5 0
Sarah Lehman and Morgan Goedken. Amanda Lansman and Maggie Harvey.
2B – Madison Scott, Jenny Wick (REG); Megan Flattery (FDSE). W – Sarah Lehman (16-8). L – Amanda Lansman (25-8).