COLLINSVILLE — The O'Fallon Panthers have had a knack for big innings this season, even if there are already two outs.
The Panthers put together a six-run rally after there were two outs in the third inning to beat the Belleville East Lancers 6-2 Saturday in the championship game of the Class 4A Collinsville Regional.
Macy Oswald had a two-run double and Lexi Cavins had a two-run single during the rally.
"It was a great rally,'' Oswald said. "We're a good team with two outs. We just keep poking hits and making things happen.''
The Panthers had five hits and drew three walks as they sent 11 batters to the plate in the third inning.
"Literally, everything happened with two outs, and you don't see that happen very often,'' O'Fallon coach Kate Walsh said. "Six runs, especially against Belleville East ... They have such a great outfield and such a great defense. I'm was just really proud of my kids.''
It was the fourth straight regional title for the Panthers.
"Since my freshman year we have won regionals, and it's just great every year,'' Oswald said. "My senior year is just like icing on the cake.''
The Panthers (30-6) advance to play the Edwardsville Tigers (32-2) at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Edwardsville Sports Complex in the Edwardsville Sectional.
The teams split their two Southwestern Conference games with O'Fallon winning 15-10 in 15 innings on April 19 at Edwardsville and Edwardsville winning at O'Fallon 3-0 on May 17.
"They're great team, but it's which ever team brings their best that game,'' Oswald said.
O'Fallon senior Taylor Barnouski, who hadn't been feeling well the last couple of days, allowed only five hits and one earned run pitching in the heat. She struck out three and walked two.
"I had a sinus cold the past few days, so when I came out I just wanted to work real hard and get it done,'' Barnouski said.
The Lancers ended their season at 24-12. They'll lose four seniors -- Christine Schaab, Taiyana Poore, Katie Belleville and Ashley Slaten -- to graduation.
"We have four great seniors who gave their heart and soul to this program for four years, but we also started five sophomores this year,'' East coach Natalie Peters said. "I'm definitely excited about the talent that is here. The kids that we have, have a really strong work ethic, and I think Belleville East softball is going to be something to talk about next year for sure.''
The Lancers took a 1-0 lead in the second when Schaab stole third and scored when the no one covered third and the throw from the catcher went into left field.
"We know speed is a big asset of ours, and we kind of stole that first run with our speed,'' Peters said.
Sam Ralphs sparked the third-inning uprising for the Panthers by drawing a two-out walk from East pitcher Alison Mitts.
Sam Busekrus followed with a single to left field. Oswald doubled off the fence in left-center field to score Ralphs and Busekrus.
The Lancers intentionally walked Taylor Underwood and Lauren Marlinghaus reached on an infield single to load the bases.
Marla Schulte walked after running up a 3-2 count to force in a run.
Taylor Bowlby brought in a run with a single and Cavins capped the rally with a single that brought in two more runs.
"We just needed one out, one pitch a couple of times,'' Peters said. "What I just told (Mitts) here in the dugout was that I am so proud of the way she came back after that inning. O'Fallon is all about runs. If they get on a run, they're going to beat you, and we let them get on a run today.''
Mitts retired the last 10 batters that she faced, but the damage had already been done.
The Lancers got their other run in the fourth on a single by Danielle Hendricks and a double by Mitts.
Working with a 6-2 cushion, Barnouski allowed only one hit over the final three innings.
"That feels really good as a pitcher because you know you have some insurance runs,'' Barnouski said.
Contact reporter Steve Korte at email@example.com or 239-2522.