Gaels escape in extra innings

Nothing came easy for the sixth-ranked (Class 2A) St. Edmond softball team here Wednesday night as they opened postseason play.

The Gaels survived and advanced, though, earning a spot in a Region 7 semifinal thanks to a 4-2 victory in eight innings over Ogden at Rogers Park.

St. Edmond (24-8 overall) will now face Carroll Kuemper (15-21) on Friday back at Rogers Park. First-pitch is set for 7 p.m. The Knights upset Van Meter, 9-8, in nine innings last night.

Every time the Gaels would take a lead the Bulldogs (14-12) answered, but the eighth inning belonged to the green and white.

Amanda Lansman, who came on in relief to earn the win, reached on an error. Josie Heesch, one of four seniors, belted a shot to the outfield that found grass.

Ogden proceeded to throw the ball away, allowing both courtesy runner Katie Ahlers and Heesch to score.

“What a game,” SEHS head coach Paul Hunt said. “A win is a win is a win, no matter how you get it.

“We’ve had games where we’ve left runners out there and felt disappointed. This was not one of those games; we earned everything we got.”

Lansman pitched the final three innings, improving to 5-1 on the year. Katie Donnelly had five strikeouts over the first five innings, and also drove in a run.

“Katie’s pitch count was getting a little high and we decided to go to Amanda,” Hunt said. “(Lansman’s) done a great job this year for us, and she came through yet again.”

After walking the leadoff batter in the eighth, Lansman retired the final three to set off a brief – but joyous – celebration.

“This was a big one, but we’ve got bigger games ahead of us,” Hunt said. “It will be great to be back at Rogers Park Friday night. Hopefully, we will have another great crowd; as we’ve had them all year so far.”

Maggie Harvey collected two hits in the win and had one of three steals on the night. Jessica Kuebler, who Hunt said has “come up clutch for us just about every night,” had a double and scored a run.

“I don’t know how it seems to always happen, but it feels like Jessica is the one at the plate in every big situation,” Hunt said. “The progress that she has made this year is just incredible.”

Kuemper has won four of its last six overall, and earned a victory earlier this season over 5A Fort Dodge at Rogers Park, 2-1.