Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – Regina returned to familiar territory with win in the Class 2A state quarterfinals.
Very familiar territory.
Third-ranked Regina (28-7) will be making its second consecutive state semifinal appearance on Thursday when it faces No. 9 Van Meter (30-8) at 7:30 p.m. at Principal Park in Des Moines.
Regina enters red-hit, winners of 14 of its last 15 games and riding a long winning streak following a five-run win over Treynor in its state opener.
If any of that sounds familiar it should, the Regals followed a nearly identical path to the semifinals a year ago.
Last season Regina entered the state semifinals winners of 14-of-15 and on a winning streak after a five-run quarterfinal win over Treynor.
The record (28-7) was identical entering the Regals’ 2017 semifinal matchup and the lone loss in its previous 15 games even came to the same team both years (Davenport West).
There is one significant difference this time around – this time Regina has experience.
Regina was making its first semifinal appearance since 1994 last year when it lost 8-0 to eventual champion Dyersville Beckman.
This season it’s not all new to Regina.
“It feels great to be back in the semifinals two games away from a state championship,” Regina senior Schooley said. “Obviously this year we are going to have a little different approach to it we’ve been there before.”
Regina took big steps last season with its first state tournament appearance since 2014 and first win at state since 1994.
This year the Regals believe that added postseason experience along with the sting of an 8-0 semifinal can provide the missing pieces that help reach their ultimate goal.
“The experience plays a huge part in it but also I think the fact that we set out to achieve a goal last year and didn’t get it done I think that kind of fuels the fire a little bit,” Regina coach Jeff Pacha said. “I think it adds a little bit of that burning desire to get done what we want to get done.”
Winners of 11 straight the Regals are a win away from returning to the state title game for the first time in nearly 25 years.
Standing in the way is a Van Meter team seeking its first state title game trip since winning the 1A title in 2003.
Van Meter scored three unanswered runs to rally for a 4-3 win over tenth-ranked Alta-Aurelia in the 2A quarterfinals on Monday.
“I think what we are going to see is a team that is playing well, they are playing with a lot of confidence,” Pacha said. “They are going to make us go out and win the game they are definitely not going to beat themselves.”
Van Meter lost three of four games in a four-day span last month that began with back-to-back losses to 3A qualifiers Carlisle and Davenport Assumption.
The Bulldogs have won 12 of 14 game since and bring a five-game winning streak into the semifinals.
Regina comes in playing its best baseball of the season.
The Regals have allowed more than one run just once in their previous five games and are outscoring opponents 100-23 during their current winning streak.
“The key to baseball in postseason play is that it’s not about what you’ve done to get there it’s the team that plays the best that day,” Pacha said. “You’ve got to be able to stay locked in and execute offensively, defensively you have to make plays and not give up free bases.”