Your Prep Sports
FORT DODGE – Regina senior pitcher Emma Nibaur described the first inning of Tuesday’s state quarterfinal win over Van Meter in which the Bulldogs led 2-0 just two batters into the game ‘not exactly ideal’.
So how did Nibaur feel about giving up a leadoff homer in the Class 2A semifinal on Wednesday.
“I guess today was worse,” Nibaur said with a laugh. “Neither was very good.”
The starts haven’t been good but the results have been golden for the Regals this week in Fort Dodge.
Nibaur rebounded from another rough start and fourth-ranked Regina rallied from an early deficit for the second day in a row downing top-ranked Central Springs 7-4 in a 2A semifinal at Rogers Sports Complex.
Regina (23-11) scored seven unanswered runs after falling into a 2-0 first-inning deficit while advancing to the 2A title game for the first time since its fourth consecutive title appearance in 2018.
“Honestly, it felt like yesterday where we knew it wasn’t that big of a deal,” Nibaur said of the early deficit. “No one likes to give up home runs but in reality it wasn’t that big of a deal. I knew our offense was ready to go and once we figure out their pitcher we started to roll.”
Nibaur allowed a pair of solo home runs in the first inning as Central Springs (32-2) took an early lead.
Kaylea Fessler lined a pitch over the center field fence to open the bottom of the 1st inning for the Panthers and two batters late Madisyn Kelley hammered a shot over the fence in right center.
Just like Tuesday when Van Meter took a 4-0 lead after two innings Regina found itself in an early hole.
Just like Tuesday the Regals quickly dug themselves out.
“We graduated six seniors, nobody expected us to be here, we have parents that have vacation planned for this week and you think I’m kidding but I’m not,” Regina coach Angela Kessler said. “I have more than one parent that planned on being on vacation this week and had to change their travel plans but these girls just don’t give up.”
Regina took the lead in the four when Jillian Panther capped a long at bat by lining a two-strike pitch into center field for a two-out, two-run single that gave the Regals a 3-2 lead.
“It was a struggle, I was behind in the count but I think being able to foul a couple of off and time her up was big,” Panther said. “I just waited for my pitch.”
Regina then broke the game open in the fifth.
The Regals had four hits, including RBI singles by Nibaur and Panther, and sent nine batters to the plate in a four-run fifth that gave Regina a 7-2 cushion.
Avery Kies led off with a single, Dani Laughlin reached on a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt attempt and Courtney Kessler was walked.
Nibaur followed with a two-run ground ball base hit to short, Kennedy Connor double and Panther had an RBI single.
“The first game here it was 2-0 after the first inning so I think we realized this had happened to us before so we knew we could come back from it,” Panther said. “We weren’t down on ourselves in the beginning, we knew we still had lots of innings left and this game won’t be over until the final out.”
Central Springs got two runs in the fifth and almost had more but left the bases loaded as Nibaur got ninth-place hitter Carly Ryan to fly out to right field to end the inning.
“I know if we are up or we are down we are all going to give it everything we have,” Nibaur said. “We really wanted to make this state championship game and now that we are here we really want it.”
Regina will face seventh-ranked Wilton (28-6) in the 2A title game on Friday at 5 p.m.
The two River Valley Conference rivals split a pair of regular season meetings with Regina winning the season opener 7-1 and Wilton winning the rematch 1-0.
“I think we really excited to play them, an RVC matchup that’s what everyone wanted,” Nibaur said. “We know each other’s assets. They know me really well and we know their pitcher really well so I think it’s going to be a great game and it’s going to come down to hitting.”
Regina 000 330 0 – 7 7 1
Central Springs 200 020 0 – 4 9 3
W – Emma Nibaur L – Cooper Klaahsen
2B – ICR: Kennedy Connor
HR – CS: Kaylea Fessler, Madisyn Kelley