116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
LISBON — After a wild night of momentum swings, some clutch hitting sent Lisbon to familiar territory.
Lisbon pushed past Highland, 8-6, in a regional final Tuesday night, sending the Lions to state for the fourth-straight year.
The last five Lisbon runs came with two outs.
“We wait until the last minute, but we get it done,” Lisbon catcher Taylor Techau said.
Upstart Highland (22-7), which exceeded expectations at every turn this season, made things difficult with its young roster.
“No one expected us to get this far,” Highland head coach Carrie Wieland said. “We were underrated all the time and we just showed them that we can play with anybody. We didn’t come out on top tonight, but I had two great kids pitching. Everybody did their best and I couldn’t ask for anything else.”
The Lions chased Highland starter Grace Butcheller in the second while jumping out to an early 3-0 lead.
It looked as if Lisbon might breeze. Ryleigh Allgood struck out five Huskies in the first two frames, but a Payton Brun RBI double put the Huskies on the board in the top of the third.
Jessica Kraus put up a zero in the bottom of the third, giving the Huskies a chance to catch up.
In the top of the fourth, a pair of Lisbon errors led to a Highland run. The tying run came across as Sarah Burton beat out a grounder to short. With runners on second and third, Brun ripped her third triple of the game, giving Highland a 5-3 lead.
With all of the momentum in the Highland dugout, Lisbon came right back in the bottom of the fourth.
Facing two outs, a Blair Baltes RBI double trimmed the deficit to one. Techau stepped to the dish and picked a prime opportunity to launch her first home run of the year. The blast to right-center put Lisbon up 6-5.
“I didn’t know it was out until I rounded first,” Techau said. “I just chilled and relaxed. Ran the bases. It felt nice. I was a little nervous when they got the lead but I knew we could do it.”
The teams traded runs in the fifth. In the bottom of the sixth, yet again with two outs, Stacia Hall laced a triple and plated Techau for an important insurance run.
In the top of the seventh, Allgood retired the Huskies in order to send Lisbon gloves flying in the air.
With both pitchers returning and a number of talented freshman contributors, including Brun, hopes will be high for Highland next season.
“We’re back,” Wieland said. “We’re coming back. Look out.”