Your Prep Sports
FORT DODGE – Kennedy Connor and Dani Laughlin are both new to the Regina softball program.
The two are already well versed in the Regina tradition of late-inning rallies, postseason magic and state tournament comebacks.
“Oh, they all told me all about it right away,” Laughlin said of her teammates. “I guess it’s a trend here.”
A trend that Connor and Laughlin helped continue on Tuesday at Rogers Sports Complex in Fort Dodge.
Connor had three hits including the game-tying double in the sixth inning and Laughlin threw out the potential tying run at the plate in the top of the seventh as fourth-ranked Regina overcame an early 4-0 deficit to down No. 6 Van Meter 6-5 in a Class 2A state quarterfinal.
“We were are kind of known at Regina for coming back, we know that, we just had to get the bats back on,” Connor said. “The second time around we had to get the bats going.”
After falling into a 4-0 deficit after two innings Regina score in each of its final four at bats taking its only lead of the game on a Laughlin sacrifice fly in the top of the sixth.
Regina (22-11) will take on top-ranked Central Springs (32-1) on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. while Van Meter dropped to 30-10 with the loss.
“We were expecting to come back honestly,” Regina senior pitcher Emma Nibaur said. “We call it the Regal way. It’s just what we’ve done.”
Regina fell into a hole early as Van Meter leadoff hitter Maia Abrahamson led off the game with a single to left and Macy Blomgren followed with a line drive home run to left center.
The Bulldogs took advantage of two errors by Nibaur both on bunts to add two runs in the second and take a 4-0 lead.
Regina wasn’t flustered.
The Regals scored single runs in the third and fourth and Nibaur settled in retiring eight in a row at one point.
“We came out here knowing that they were going to hit, no one wants to give up a home run in the first inning, it’s not ideal but I don’t think it flustered us,” Nibaur said. “We trickled a couple of runs in but we knew it was time for us to comeback, we were just waiting for that time.”
Regina pulled even at 5-5 with three runs in the fifth.
Courtney Kessler had a two-run, line drive single to right field that cut the lead to 5-4 and Gabby Sueppel and Connor had back-to-back doubles that tied the score at 5-all.
“I feel like our mindset was a little better, coming back we knew we could do it,” Connor said. “We knew we could get those runs we just had to get the bats going.”
Laughlin helped to snuff out a golden opportunity for the Bulldogs to tie the game in the top of the sixth.
The first two Van Meter hitters reach on errors and with one out Beth Button hit a ground ball single to center but Laughlin came up firing and threw a strike to Kessler to catch Abrahamson trying to score from second.
“It’s one of those plays you think about as a kid, two outs play at the plate I was going all out,” Laughlin said. “I threw it and my catcher Courtney buy did an amazing job of getting the tag down.”
Nibaur got the next batter Maddie Waldorf to pop out to Laughlin in shallow center field to end the game.
Nibaur earned the win allowing just one run on three hits over the final five innings.
“Four errors is not ideal, but we knew that is how softball works, it’s a sport of failure so when we were down 4-0 it wasn’t ideal but we knew that we could do it together,” Nibaur said. “We just kept joking around and we said it’s our time. This is the Regal way, this is where we want them.”
Van Meter 220 010 0 – 5 5 0
Regina 001 131 x – 6 11 4
W – Emma Nibaur L – Macy Blomgren
2B – ICR: Dani Laughlin, Gabby Sueppel, Kennedy Connor. VM: Maddie Waldorf
HR – VM: Macy Blomgren