Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – One of the focal points for Regina this postseason has been getting off to a strong start.
Even with all the time he has spent preaching the important of an early lead first-year coach Jake Koolbeck couldn’t have imagined what his team would do in its first two regional games.
For the second consecutive postseason game Regina bolted to an early lead, scoring seven first-inning runs on Friday in a 12-0 five-inning win over Denver (10-23) in a Class 2A, Region 6 semifinal at Regina.
“You can’t plan it much better than that but you don’t expect it,” Koolbeck said. “You expect to get a battle in the postseason all the time but our goal was to come out and score early and try to put the pressure on the other dugout, play as loose as we can and keep playing Regina softball.”
Katie Bracken allowed just two hits in a five-inning shutout on Friday as Class 2A No. 10 Regina (22-15) returned to the regional title game for the fourth consecutive season.
Regina will be seeking a fourth straight state tournament appearance on Monday when it faces ninth-ranked North Linn (38-4) at 7 p.m. in Troy Mills in the Region 6 championship.
“We are definitely building momentum,” Bracken said. “We just need to keep it going for a couple more weeks.”
Regina has barreled out of the gate in both of its regional wins and never let up.
The Regals have scored 22 runs in eight postseason innings following it’s five-inning win on Friday and have scored at least one run in six of eight innings.
Meanwhile Bracken has allowed three hits and struck out 12 in regional wins over Aplington-Parkersburg and Denver after falling seven in five innings on Friday.
“As soon as we can get it done I’m good with that,” Bracken said. “I’ve felt sharp these last two games but the sooner we can end the game the better.”
The Regals scored two runs in the first inning of their postseason opener against Aplington-Parkers on Tuesday, added four more in the second before a six-run third ended the game.
Regina wasted even less time getting rolling on Friday.
The first seven batters came around to score as Regina took a commanding 7-0 lead.
Jess Hunter led off with a single and scored on a Carrigan O’Connor triple.
After a walk to Bracken Paisley Gardner ripped a single to left field and three consecutive walks to Lauren Marth, Taylor O’Connor and Annie Gahan put the Regals up 5-0.
“It took a lot of pressure off of us to come out and hit that well at the beginning of the game,” Gardner said. “That allowed us to keep it going throughout the game.”
An error plated another run and O’Connor drove in her second run of the inning with a sacrifice fly that made it 7-0.
That was more than enough for Bracken who allowed just a pair of singles and a walk while improving to 14-13 on the season with her third consecutive shutout.
“Having insurance runs definitely helps mentally,” Bracken said. “It definitely takes some pressure off me pitching with that kind of a lead.
Regina added a run in the second and ended the game via the ten-run rule with two runs in the fifth on a double by Emma Nibaur.
The defending 2A state champion Regals will look to get off to another strong start against a North Linn team that enters riding a 17-game winning streak.
"It’s always nice to have kids that have been in big games,” Koolbeck said. “Our returners from the year’s past have been in big regional games and big state games and then our kids this year that have played the schedule we have played and seen great teams.”
Denver 000 00 – 0 2 2
Regina 710 02 – 10 8 0
W – Katie Bracken L – Sydney Eggena
3B – ICR: Carrigan O’Connor