No. 2 Lansing Kee earns rematch of 2014 1A title game after beating Martensdale-St. Marys

Hawks take on No. 1 Akron-Westfield in championship after 5-2 victory over Blue Devils

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FORT DODGE — Emotions that Lansing Kee carried off the field were clear.

There was plenty of cheering and hugging to go around, but there was also an undertone of understanding the moment. Kee knows it has a chance to right some wrongs.

Don’t think the moment is too big for the Hawks. Such a notion couldn’t be further from their minds.

“Everything is clicking pretty darn good,” said third baseman and pitcher Courtney Cooper. “I think all in all, we’re playing the best ball we have all year so that’s a good feeling coming into the state championship game.”

No. 2 Kee dispatched No. 4 Martinsdale-St. Marys 5-2 in a Class 1A semifinal at the state softball tournament Thursday. The Hawks (38-6) get No. 1 Akron-Westfield in the championship game Friday at 4:55 p.m.

Efficient offense and timely defense aided Kee in its semifinal win. Pitcher Kendra Cooper and the Hawks defense held the Blue Devils without a hit until the third inning and got their own bats going in the first.

Facing two hits, Kee got three hits in a row that scored two runs before Courtney Cooper delivered a deep home run to center field in the third for a 3-0 lead. Time spent in the batting cages was well used.

“They’re sponges,” said coach Liz Hill. “You can tweak things here and there and it’s good stuff. Their hard work is hard to match. There are some phenomenal ball clubs down here, but I’ve got some pretty special young ladies.”

Martensdale-St. Marys drew the score back to 3-2 in the top of the fifth, but first baseman Chloe Severson delivered a double to center field and gave Kee some cushion. She picked up an RBI and started a two-run inning that saw the lead get pushed to 5-2 after Casey Welsh reached base on an error that scored another.

Kee allowed six hits in the win, but buckled up in critical moments and got out of jams in the third and seventh innings.

“Our defense was pretty solid,” Severson said. “They had a lot of base hits and hey were putting the ball in play, but we were able to make plays when we needed to and get out of those situations.”

Friday’s title game is a rematch of the 2014 1A championship game when Akron-Westfield beat Kee 12-1.

Hill has brought a cerebral approach to the game this season and has influenced how the players feel as they head into the title game. Respect the past, but don’t let it affect the future.

“You’re not just going to forget that (title game two years ago). We know about it,” Hill said. “We’ve still got to come and play our game. We’re excited to be there and give it what we can.”

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