FORT DODGE — This time, the Regina Regals were on the wrong end of the rally.
Third-ranked Louisa-Muscatine struck for a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, with Hailey Sanders’ single chasing home Kylee Sanders for the winning run in a 4-3 triumph over No. 10 Iowa City Regina for the Class 2A state softball championship Thursday night at the Rogers Sports Complex.
“The feeling is so unreal,” Hailey Sanders said. “At the beginning of the season, this seemed so far away. To do it with this group, it’s magical.”
For the Falcons, it was a magical feeling to conclude a magical season. They finished 38-6 in their first state-tournament appearance.
Louisa-Muscatine won all three of its state-tournament games by one run.
Regina (25-16) was in the finals for the fourth straight year. The Regals claimed titles in 2015 and 2017, settled for second in 2016, then did so again Thursday.
“We put it all out on the field,” Regina pitcher Katie Bracken said. “They strung together some hits, and we just fell a little short.”
The Regals have won a lot of games this way through their recent run of glory, including a 16-inning thriller over Eddyville EBF in last year’s title game, in which they scored four runs in the bottom of the 16th.
This time, they were on the other side of it.
“I’m super proud of this team,” first-year Regals coach Jake Koolbeck said. “They battled all year long. They came up with big hits. This year, the other team did it to us.”
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With the Falcons trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the seventh, Brynn Jeamby hit the first pitch of the inning to the right-center field gap for a double, then went to third on Mallory Hohenadel’s sacrifice bunt.
Kylee Sanders’ clean single to left tied the game, then McKenna Hohenadel’s infield single put runners at first and second. Katie Koppe’s fly ball to right advanced both runners, and the Regals intentionally walked Isabelle True.
Hailey Sanders laced a 1-2 pitch to left, and Kylee Sanders raced home without a throw.
The Falcons got on the board in the bottom of the first, then Regina scored three runs in the third without hitting the ball out of the infield for a 3-1 lead.
Emma Nibaur walked, and when Jess Hunter hit the ball back to True in the circle, True was indecisive and made no throw.
That opened the door.
With two outs, Bracken walked. Paisley Gardner grounded to short, with Hunter beating Kylee Sanders to third base, enabling Nibaur to score.
Then Lauren Marth beat out a grounder to first, and the Regals aggressively scored two runs.
Louisa-Muscatine closed within 3-2 on True’s home run in the fourth.
Bracken, Marth and Hunter represented Regina on the all-tournament team.
LOUISA-MUSCATINE 4, IOWA CITY REGINA 3
Class 2A State Championship, at Fort Dodge
Iowa City Regina 003 000 0 — 3 6 1
Louisa-Muscatine 100 100 2 — 4 10 1
(Two outs when winning run scored)
Katie Bracken and Maeve Dunne. Isabelle True, Hailey Sanders (4) and Katie Hearn. W — Sanders (11-2). L — Bracken (10-2). HR — LM: True (7).
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