By Rob Gray
FORT DODGE — No panic.
A little stress.
One raucous celebration.
Iowa City Regina pitcher Hannah Stein closed out a historic, white-knuckle 5-4 Class 2A state softball tournament semifinal win over No. 2 Bondurant-Farrar Thursday, helping her 11th-ranked team to its first championship game.
“I was just really nervous,” said Stein, who walked four and struck out three in two shutout innings.
She didn’t show her anxiety — despite facing two pulse-pounding situations.
In the bottom of the seventh, Stein yielded a leadoff walk to the Bluejays’ Ashley Burrows. Two outs later, she intentionally walked slugger Sabrina Hargis, putting the potential winning run on base.
“If they’re going to win the game, she’s not going to do it for them,” Regals Coach Jon Prottsman said of the decision to walk Hargis, who had already homered and driven in two runs.
Stein then coaxed an unassisted ground out to third, preserving the win for her older sister, Allison, who allowed four runs in five innings.
“Those Steins, those sisters have really stepped it up in the last (part) if the season,” said Regals third baseman Sara Kron, who helped Regina take a 3-0 first-inning lead with a two-out RBI double.
Four of the Regals’ runs were unearned.
After Kron’s early double plated hot-hitting Julia Hunter, an error allowed Ciarah Schlader to score. Kron later crossed home plate on a wild pitch to give Regina a 3-0 lead.
“We knew we had it,” said Kron, who went 2-for-3.
But the Regals needed a sixth-inning surge to break a 3-3 tie. Jenna Lehman’s roller to second led to a two-out error that allowed Hunter — who is 5-for-6 in the tournament — and courtesy runner Nikki Becker to score.
Bondurant-Farrar (35-6) rallied for one run in the bottom of the sixth, but Hannah Stein struck out the Bluejays’ Michelle Sullivan to quell the threat.
“I don’t think most times she understands the situation she’s in — how much pressure there is,” Prottsman said of the younger Stein. “She just throws the ball.”
Regina faces No. 5 West Burlington in today’s 5 p.m. championship game.
“We’ve made history,” said Kron, who walked one while briefly pitching between the Steins in the sixth. “It’s what we came here to do, what we wanted to do. Now we’ve got to win it.”