Poised for another deep postseason run, the fourth-ranked St. Edmond softball team will host Panorama in a Class 2A, Region 7 quarterfinal here tonight.
First pitch is set for 7 p.m. at Rogers Sports Complex.
Entering tournament play, the North Central Conference champion Gaels (28-5 overall) have notched 10 victories in their last 11 games. SEHS is fresh off an 11-0 shutout over Iowa Falls-Alden on Monday.
"It's one of those seasons where we're really trying to focus on what we need to do," St. Edmond head coach Paul Hunt said. "We're feeling real confident with how we've been playing. At the same time, we know it's very realistic that anybody can beat anybody on any off night. We've just been trying to prepare ourselves the best we can for any team we might have to face."
Freshman Maggie Harvey (.469 BA, 46 H, 45 RBI, 37 R), senior Jessica Kuebler (.424 BA, 42 H, 24 RBI), junior Amanda Lansman (.400 BA, 38 H, 30 RBI) and junior Jaci Stumpf (.374 BA, 37 H, 31 R, 21 RBI) are the top offensive threats in the imposing Gael lineup, which has scored in double figures 10 times this season.
Among all 2A programs, St. Edmond ranks first in home runs (17), first in slugging percentage (.539), second in batting average (.371), tied for third in doubles (75), fifth in hits (331), tied for fifth in triples (12), tied for sixth in stolen bases (111), eighth in RBI (195) and 11th in runs (231).
Last summer, the Gaels reached state for the fourth time in school history, finishing sixth in the 2A field.
"I'm really excited about our experience," said Hunt. "We have the same core group back that got us over the hump last year, so our girls know what to expect going in. We're really hungry."
Lansman (26-5; 188 IP, 127 H, 213 K, 1.08 ERA) will receive the starting assignment in the circle this evening for St. Edmond. The Iowa Central recruit fired her first varsity no-hitter in the regular-season finale against the Cadets.
"Amanda has been throwing the ball really well," Hunt said. "Our defense has been pretty consistent behind her, too. This week has allowed us to have some more little practices to continue to get better. With the way the summer schedule fell, we haven't really had a whole lot of practice time."
St. Edmond boasts a 14-2 record this season at Rogers Sports Complex.
"It's always great to play at Harlan," said Hunt. "Jim Winter and his crew do such an excellent job. No matter what the weather does, the field surface is always in great playing shape."
Mykenzie Olson (.424 BA, 28 H, 17 RBI), Devyn Kemble (.347 BA, 25 H, 21 R) and Kellie Prince (.347 BA, 25 H, 15 R) anchor the Panthers at the plate. Panorama (7-16) advanced with a 13-1 four-inning triumph over South Central Calhoun.
Tonight's winner moves on to meet either Prairie Valley (18-9) or Ogden (13-17) in a 2A, Region 7 semifinal here Friday at 7 p.m.