Your Prep Sports
FORT DODGE – After the way the first two games at the state tournament started for Regina a 1-0 deficit after the top of the first inning in the 2A state title game on Friday didn’t seem like a bad start.
“We sort of said, ‘o.k. we’re behind so now the game can really start’,” Regina senior pitcher Emma Nibaur said.
As it did all week, Regina rallied and this time the result was a state title.
Fourth-ranked Regina (24-11) scored twice in the bottom of the first inning and never trailed again on its way to a 6-4 win over seventh-ranked Wilton (28-7) at Rogers Sports Complex in Fort Dodge.
“We took being down as motivation,” Regina junior outfielder Dani Laughlin said. “We kept coming. We kept coming back.”
Regina trailed 4-0 after three innings in a quarterfinal win over Van Meter and was down 2-0 after two innings in a 7-4 semifinal win over top-ranked Central Springs.
The third consecutive come-from-behind win of the week on Friday gave Regina the fourth state title in program history and its first since 2017.
“I think that just shows our effort and our character,” Nibaur said. “This whole team, this entire school is just incredible. I think it speaks a lot about our character that we never give up.”
Wilton became the third team of the week to jump on Regina early when Hailey Madlock gave the Beavers a 1-0 lead with a single to left field in the top of the first inning on Friday.
Nibaur avoided a big inning when she got Madelyn Wade to pop out to short and Kaylie Coss to fly out to right to leave the bases loaded in the first.
“We talked about this yesterday and I told out girls how about we start off on top,” Regina coach Angela Kessler said. “Then today I said ‘so you guys aren’t going to listen to me about that’ but they came right back.”
Regina had responded to rough starts all week.
On Friday the Regals responded right away.
Avery Kies drew a leadoff walk and Laughlin singled and both scored on a two-run single to left by Nibaur that gave Regina an early lead.
“We kept our cool for the majority of the game,” Nibaur said. “I am really proud of my team for that.”
Wilton pulled even briefly when Peyton Souhrada led off the third with a solo home run to right field but Regina answered by scoring single runs in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings while building a 6-2 lead.
Regina regained the lead in the bottom of the third when Laughlin led off with a single and scored on an RBI double by Kessler.
“Being down didn’t really hurt us at all it really just made us want to win more because we had to come from the bottom,” Laughlin said.
Jillian Panther had an RBI single in the fourth, Kennedy Conner an RBI single in the fifth and Laughlin an RBI double in the sixth.
“I think today they knew they couldn’t give Wilton an edge,” Kessler said. “They know Wilton, they knew that we had to get back on top right away and we had to keep that momentum the entire game.”
Wilton rallied in the seventh cutting the lead to 6-4 on a RBI double by Payton Ganzer but Nibaur got ninth-place hitter Catie Hook to fly out to Morgan Gahan in left field to end the game.
“This is the best feeling I have ever felt,” Nibaur said. “It’s every little kids’ dream. So standing here now it’s unbelievable.”
Wilton 101 000 0 – 4 11 2
Regina 201 111 x – 6 9 3
W – Emma Nibaur L – Charlotte Brown
2B – ICR: Courtney Kessler, Dani Laughlin. WIL: Charlotte Brown, Payton Ganzer
3B – ICR: Dani Laughlin
HR – WIL: Peyton Souhrada