Defending Champion Regina Returns to State With Win Over Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont in Regional Title Game
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IOWA CITY – For the third consecutive season Regina is headed to the state softball tournament.
This time the state tournament trip came without the high level of late-game drama that has become a seemingly annual tradition for the Regals.
After thrilling regional title wins the past two seasons defending 2A state champion Regina jumped to an early lead on Monday and cruised to a 6-2 win over Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont (18-18) in the Region 7 title game in Iowa City.
“Yes, it was certainly nice to have a little bit of a cushion from the beginning,” Regina coach Angela Kessler said. “Yes, 100 thousand percent it was nice to have a game like that.”
Top-ranked Regina (27-8) scored two runs in each of the first three innings and we never seriously threatened while advancing to the state tournament for the third straight season and the seventh time in the past nine seasons.
Senior Ashley Webb struck eight in a complete game and Dani Laughlin and Alli Clark each had two hits and drove in two runs for Regina which needed a pair of seventh-inning runs to down Cardinal in the regional semifinals.
“Tonight it just felt like another game,” Laughlin said. “Most of our postseason games have been close and we’ve played really tight but I felt like everyone tonight had fun.”
Regina fell into a 2-0 deficit and played catch up the entire game in a 3-2 semifinal win over Cardinal on Friday.
On Monday it was all Regina from the outset.
Webb retired the Rockets in order in the top of the first inning and the first three Regina batters reach based in the bottom of the inning as the Regals jumped to a 2-0 lead.
“We did a lot of talking about pitch selection and just execution at the plate and being in control at the plate,” Kessler said. “That was the main focus for us after Friday was just pitch selection in our hitting.”
Avery Kies drew a lead off walk and Laughlin followed with a bunt single.
Courtney Kessler lined a single to left to give Regina a 1-0 lead.
Webb followed with a sacrifice fly that plated Laughlin to give the Regals an early 2-0 advantage they would never give up.
“Getting the early lead was really important because last game we didn’t and I think that prevented us from playing to our full potential,” Laughlin said. “When we get those early runs we can really play freely and I think we play better as a team when we are playing like that.”
Regina added two more runs in the second on a two-run single by Laughlin that plated Jillian Panther and Alli Clark.
Clark ripped a two-run single to score Gabby Sueppel and Morgan Gahan in the third inning as Regina built a 6-1 lead.
“I think that one of the main things is we adjusted to the pitcher really well,” Clark said. “Sometimes it can take a few innings for us to do that but I think we really got on her right away and started hitting right away.”
Seven different Regina players had a hit on Monday led by Laughlin, Kessler, Gahan and Clark all with two hits.
“It’s super important to have people that can hit all throughout the lineup,” Clark said. “We can trust that if we get one base we always have someone behind us that can hit us in.”
That was more than enough support for Webb who allowed two runs on six hits while striking out eight without issuing a walk.
“We knew that we beat East Marshall and that’s who we thought we were going to play so we knew we couldn’t underestimate them,” Webb said. “I knew when we scored the first inning it was game over. When our bats are hot it’s going to be a good game for us.”
Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont 010 000 1 – 2 6 1
Regina 222 000 x – 6 10 1
W – Ashley Webb L – Bella Noble
HR – EBF: Cooper Champoux