Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – Defending Class 2A state champion Regina opened postseason play on Wednesday a different team in a much different situation than it was a year ago.
Last season Regina entered the postseason ranked fourth and rattled off six straight wins en route to the 2A title.
This season the Regals have a new role entering regional play top-ranked and as the unquestioned favorite yet seeking a similar postseason path as last season.
“Every year is a new team with a lot of different roles,” Regina senior catcher Courtney Kessler said. “Our roles have changed and everyone had to find their role. Hopefully the result is the same, the team may not be the same but hopefully the result is the same.”
So far so good for Regina.
Class 2A top-ranked Regina (25-8) stretched its regional winning streak to seven with a 12-0 win over Pekin in Class 2A, Region 7 quarterfinal on Wednesday in Iowa City.
“It’s harder to coach a team that won last year than it is coaching a team that nobody expected anything from,” Regina coach Angela Kessler said. “I think they put a lot more pressure on themselves than I think is necessary, I think it’s harder for them to have fun, we are constantly reminding them to have fun because they are constantly focused on the end goal rather than living in the moment.”
Senior pitcher Ashley Webb struck out five in a three-inning one-hitter and Regina sent 13 batters to the plate in an eight-run first inning on Wednesday while advancing to the Region 7 semifinals.
Regina (25-8) will host Cardinal (14-15) in the Region 7 semifinals on Friday at 7 p.m.
Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont (17-17) will host East Marshall (20-12) in the other Region 7 semifinal.
Pekin finished the season 1-20.
“We knew that we are going to continue to see tougher competition every game from this point on,” Webb said. “We know we can’t ease up or take anything lightly.”
The roster from the Regals state title team last season returned largely intact this spring.
One of the biggest changes was in the circle where Webb replaced graduated standout pitcher Emma Nibaur.
Webb continued her stellar season in her Regina postseason debut on Wednesday.
The senior left-hander pushed her season record to 14-6 with the win and hit the 500-strikeout mark for her career when she struck out the side in the opening inning.
Webb has struck out 143 batters in 104 2/3 innings this season.
“I didn’t have any idea until they announced something,” Webb said. “It’s really just spinning the ball and being able to get them to swing and miss. I know I have to spin the ball and hit my spots.”
Regina wasted little time getting rolling on Wednesday taking advantage of eight walks and three Pekin errors in an eight-run first inning.
After a scoreless second Regina ended the game via the run rule with four runs in the third.
Kessler had a two-run double and Kennedy Conner had a two-run single in the four-run third.
“We have to win this game before we can get to the next game and that is the whole key,” Angela Kessler said. “If their mindset is ‘I’m ready for the next game’ and not here that’s how you get caught, that’s when you lose a game you shouldn’t and I don’t want that to happen to this team because they’ve worked too hard.”
Conner was 2-for-2 with a run scored and two RBI and Kessler drove in three runs to lead Regina.
Alli Clark had a hit and scored twice and Avery Kies and Dani Laughlin each scored two runs.
“I feel like we started hot and made sure if we had a few mistakes that we had to bounce back,” Webb said. “We want to always state positive.”
Pekin 000 – 0 1 3
Regina 804 – 12 4 0
W – Ashley Webb L – Ezra Parsons
2B – ICR: Courtney Kessler