LISBON — As zero after zero accumulated on the Bob Bunting Field scoreboard Monday night, doubt never entered the Lisbon Lions’ minds.
Finally, in the 13th inning, their patience was rewarded.
Sam Schrantz punched a two-out single into left field on a full count, and Reegan Happel ran home from third to send No. 2 Lisbon back to the state softball tournament with a 1-0 victory over No. 11 Belle Plaine in a Class 1A regional final.
“I knew that we all wanted it to be over,” Schrantz said. “We knew that we were gonna make it happen eventually, it was just when it was gonna happen. I really wanted to be that person.”
The Lions could remain confident as the night went on with Skylar Sadler in the circle. Sporting a 0.66 ERA entering Monday, the senior pitched another gem. She allowed three hits, including only one in extra innings – a 13th-inning single – while striking out 13.
“I just stayed calm,” Sadler said. “I knew my defense was behind me, so no pressure on me.”
Belle Plaine (24-9) had a strong defense of its own as it sought its 19th win its last 21 games.
“Nobody should have had to lose this game tonight,” Belle Plaine Coach Cathy Cronbaugh said. “Moving on would have been great. That’s what we wanted to do.”
Lisbon (32-6) was in Belle Plaine’s position last year, using eight innings to reach Fort Dodge with an upset of No. 1 Lansing Kee.
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This year, as the favorite, the Lions put the ball in play often, striking out just once against Katie Cubbage. But they left runners in scoring position in the second, third fourth, sixth, eighth, ninth and 12th innings.
“I’m just relieved,” Bunting, the longtime Lisbon coach said. “We had so many opportunities, we just didn’t cash in. Our pitcher’s tough. She does a good job. Our defense is good, so that really helped.”
Happel, who had singled in her previous two at-bats, drew a walk to start the 13th, then was sacrificed to second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Cleanup hitter Stacia Hall walked to bring up Schrantz.
The senior second baseman – 2-for-5 in the game – made sure her final home plate appearance was a memorable one.
“Throughout the whole season we could just feel it was different because we had this pressure to be good and last year was a surprise,” Schrantz said. “We had to work through the idea that we were supposed to win but anybody could beat us. We just had to remember that we always have to work hard no matter what our seed is or who we’re playing.”
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