116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
FORT DODGE — The glitter was gold. The Regals were golden.
Fourth-ranked Iowa City Regina erased a deficit for the third consecutive game at the state softball tournament. This comeback was relatively stress-free, and the Regals topped No. 7 Wilton, 6-4, for the Class 2A championship Friday afternoon at the Rogers Sports Complex.
“It’s every kid’s dream,” pitcher Emma Nibaur said. “This is the best feeling in the entire world. To be standing here in front of you right now, it’s unbelievable.”
The championship is the fourth for Regina (24-11), following titles in 2011, 2015 and 2017.
This is the first under Coach Angela Kessler.
The River Valley Conference South Division rivals split their regular-season encounters. Friday’s high-stakes meeting belonged to Regina because the Regals cashed in more frequently with runners on base.
“The fact that we’ve seen them so many times, it was a stressor,” Nibaur said. “They’ve seen me a lot, so I used a lot of offspeed stuff to keep them on their toes.”
This was the most shallow hole to dig out of. Wilton (28-7) held a brief 1-0 lead after a half-inning, but Nibaur ripped a two-run single in the bottom of the first to put the Regals in front 2-1.
The Beavers got even in the top of the third, but Regina got single tallies in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth to pull away.
“Being behind, we took that as motivation to keep coming back,” Dani Laughlin said. “It didn’t hurt us, it just made us want to come back and score.”
Wilton owned an 11-9 advantage in hits, but stranded 11 runners.
Nibaur and Laughlin were named to the all-tournament team, as was teammate Jillian Panther. Wilton’s Taylor Drayfahl was the all-tourney captain.
It was a glossy honor to match the Regals’ shiny hair, adorned with glitter.
“I think it made us play better,” Laughlin said.
Laughlin was 3-for-4, scored two runs and drove in another. Courtney Kessler added two hits.
The only thing missing from Regina’s resume from the past dozen years is back-to-back titles. The Regals return nine starters for 2023 in a bid to repeat, but must replace Nibaur in the circle.
Iowa City Regina 6, Wilton 4
Class 2A State Championship, at Fort Dodge
Wilton 101 000 2 — 4 11 2
Iowa City Regina 201 111 x — 6 9 2
Charlotte Brown and Hayley Madlock. Emma Nibaur and Courtney Kessler. W — Nibaur (18-7). L — Brown (27-7).