Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – Emma Nibaur doesn’t mind a little stress in the pitching circle.
In fact the Regina senior standout thrives on those stressful situations.
That doesn’t mean Nibaur wanted a repeat of last year’s 5-4 11-inning regional final win over Cardinal this season in Monday’s meeting with No. 12 East Marshall.
“I definitely do better in stressful situations but I told myself I don’t want something like last year,” Nibaur said. “That was too much.”
There were a few anxious moments late on Monday in the Class 2A, Region 6 title game but nothing Nibaur couldn’t handle.
Nibaur fanned nine in a three-hit shutout, stranding runners and first and second in each of the final two innings as fourth-ranked Regina (21-11) returned to the 2A state tournament for the second consecutive season with a 1-0 win over No. 12 East Marshall (25-8) in Iowa City.
“I was very thankful we only went seven innings this year let me just tell you that,” Regina coach Angela Kessler said. “I don’t know if my heart could handle 11 innings this year.”
A year ago Regina scored three runs in the ninth to force extra innings and eventually outlasted Cardinal 5-4 in 11 innings to return to state for the first time since 2018
The Regals never trailed on Monday while locking up a second consecutive trip to Fort Dodge.
Regina took a 1-0 lead in the first inning and Nibaur took care of the rest posting her second consecutive three-hit shutout while stretching her consecutive scoreless inning streak to 15.
Regina will face sixth-ranked Van Meter (30-9) on Tuesday, July 19 at 3:30 p.m. in a Class 2A quarterfinal at Rogers Sports Complex in Fort Dodge.
“I couldn’t ask for a better postseason,” Nibaur said. “I think it’s just been six or seven hits teams have had these past three games and that has helped us get on top, it’s helped us gain some confidence.”
Nibaur worked a perfect first inning and Regina quickly seized the momentum in the bottom of the inning.
Avery Kies led off with an infield single and moved to third on a Dani Laughlin sacrifice bunt.
Kies scored on a sacrifice fly to center field by junior catcher Courtney Kessler.
“That’s exactly what I was trying to do is just put a ball in play,” Courtney Kessler said. “We started with a lot of intensity from the first pitch and the first batter.”
That is all the support Nibaur would need.
She retired the first 12 hitters she faced before allowing a leadoff single to Callyn Curphy in the fifth.
“Her placement of the ball has been just perfect,” Angela Kessler said of Nibaur. “What else can you ask from a pitcher? It doesn’t matter how fast you pitch it matters where you put the ball and she’s done an amazing job with placement.”
Nibaur worked out of minor jams in both the sixth and seventh to preserve the win.
After back-to-back strikeouts to open the sixth she issued a two-out walk to Morgan Neuroth and a single to Rayne McIlrath.
Nibaur got out of the inning getting third-place hitter Emma Pfantz to fly out to shallow left.
In the seventh East Marshall got a leadoff single from Curphy and a two-out walk to Catelyn Fisher but Nibaur fanned Camy Weeks to end the game.
“The last inning it wasn’t too bad,” Nibaur said. “I knew our defense has been playing so well, error-free the whole postseason, I had so much confidence in our defense. I have confidence in our batting order.”
East Marshall 000 000 0 – 0 3 0
Regina 100 000 x – 1 4 0
W – Emma Nibaur L – Morgan Neuroth