116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
FORT DODGE — They're not all automatic. Especially not this deep into the postseason.
Three days after tying state tournament records for runs (18) and hits (23), top-ranked Lansing Kee used patience and discipline to return to the Class 1A title game.
The Hawks weren't fazed after giving up a first-inning run on an error, drawing seven walks and downing No. 7 Westwood 7-3 Thursday in a state semifinal at Rogers Sports Complex in Fort Dodge.
Defending champion Kee (37-2) will face Clarksville (29-2) at 2:39 p.m. Friday.
'We were trying to lay off the high ball, see it where it is and hit it when it's in our zone,' said Kee catcher Katie Brennan, who drew two walks and scored from second on an infield single. 'And hit it hard.'
The first three Hawks to cross the plate reached on walks – pitcher Courtney Cooper made it 2-1 with a bases-load single in the third. The fourth run was on base after a dropped third strike.
The Rebels made it interesting as the humidity increased, slicing it to 4-3 in the sixth. Then the 'hit it hard' portion of Kee's game plan took over.
Casey Welsh ripped a double to left-center, Sydney Strong followed with a hard-hit single for her second RBI of the game, then Makayla Walleser blasted a Katelyn Martian offering into the center-field stands for a four-run advantage.
'I had faith in our hitters that we would keep putting runs up on the board and luckily we did,' Cooper said. 'That helped us so we could keep fighting and work one pitch at a time.'
Westwood didn't record a hit until the fourth. Cooper scattered five hits and three walks over seven innings, limiting the damage by striking out 10.
Kee knocked off Akron-Westfield 7-3 in last year's title game. This year, the Hawks are the clear favorites. Clarksville outlasted Sigourney in a nine-inning game that stretched past midnight, 15-12.
'We have to stay within ourselves,' said Cooper, the 2016 all-tournament captain. 'It's easy sometimes to let the nerves get control even though we've been here before. The nerves are still here and it's still a big stage, so just stay within ourselves and not try to do too much.'
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