FORT DODGE — Iowa City Regina wasn’t flashy on Monday when the Regals took on Alta-Aurelia at the state softball tournament.
Regina only had five hits — just one was an extra-base hit.
But the Regals drew nine walks and stole eight bases — a Class 2A tournament record — en route to a 7-2 win over Alta-Aurelia.
“(Base running) is very important. It’s one of the things we worked on all week and all year,” Regina Coach Jake Koolbeck said. “It’s a strength for us, so we’re going to try to keep being aggressive on the bases — whether it’s stolen bases, or scoring the runner from second on the infield dribbler with two outs. It’s part of our game, and it’s going to continue to be. Then we come up with the big hits, hopefully, like we did today.”
Regina faced a tough pitcher in Abby Kraemer. Koolbeck knew she was going to get her fair share of strikeouts — she recorded 341 during the season and 15 on Monday. But he wanted his team to remain patient at the plate, and use the team’s speed to its advantage.
“We talked all week staying disciplined in the zone, a good approach at the plate, expecting to swing, but identifying that pitch and laying off it,” Koolbeck said. “Obviously it wasn’t perfect, she still put up a good number of strikeouts.
“I told them before we left, we’re going to strike out. She’s a good pitcher, it’s going to happen. We just have to work on the next at-bat. We need to fight and find ways on base. The walks today were great, I thought our discipline was excellent — only five hits, but three really big ones. We’ll take it however we can get it at this point of the year.”
Regina pitcher Katie Bracken had maybe the biggest hit of the game. In the sixth inning, with the Regals leading 3-1 with two runners on base, she lined one right up the middle, scoring both runners and blowing the game wide open.
“I just tried to stay composed and calm and do the best I could,” Bracken said.
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Bracken was the epitome of what Koolbeck wants in a player. The junior pitched seven innings, allowing only four hits while striking out seven. At the plate, she recorded two walks and two hits, including the two-run single.
“She’s a big part of our team,” Koolbeck said. “We’ve had a lot of kids that have stepped up for the team and done some really good things. We preach team softball. We don’t have one kid that’s going to win us a state championship or one kid that’s going to win us any game. But, Katie, obviously in the middle of the order and in the circle, she’s an important role and she handles pressure really well and has done a really good job for us.”
Regina won the 2A state softball tournament last season, but Koolbeck is a first-year coach.
“I think our kids’ experience is really helpful, especially for me,” Koolbeck said. “I’ve been around the game for a while, but I haven’t been here as a head coach. I told them before we left, ‘You guys have the experience, I’m the rookie here.’ They’re here to help me along. They stayed composed and they did a great job of staying in there.”
Regina plays Des Moines Christian in the semifinals at 5 p.m. Wednesday.
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