CAHOKIA — The Althoff Crusaders scored three runs off back-to-back singles by Shannon Wuller and Sara Birk in the top of the eighth inning to beat the Waterloo Bulldogs 3-1 Saturday in the championship game of the Class 3A Cahokia Softball Regional.
Birk allowed only two hits and struck out 14 on the mound for the Crusaders, who also played solid defense in the game.
"The girls just kind of came together and rallied around each other,'' first-year Althoff coach Mike Dori said. "I think it's the best I've seen them play in the field. It was fun to watch.''
The Crusaders (10-20) celebrated their second straight regional title. They'll play the Mattoon Green Wave (33-3) at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at the Effingham Sectional.
Kacey Starwalt threw a four-hit shutout as Mattoon blanked Charleston 7-0 Saturday in the championship game of the Salem Regional.
For the Crusaders, who have suffered 11 losses by two runs or less this season, the extra-inning win was especially gratifying.
"It was a real good feeling,'' Dori said. "We played a lot of close games that we never could put away. We finished today. We hit throughout the game, and we drove in runs when we needed to in the top of the eighth. It just kind of all fell into place for us.''
The Crusaders had five hits, including two by Yoselin Munoz.
Wuller drove in a run with a single and Birk helped her own cause by driving in two runs with a single in the top of the eighth.
The Crusaders gave up an unearned run in the bottom of the eighth before finishing off the win.
"I got a little nervous there because it was like, 'We've been here before,''' Dori said. "We've been close a few times to putting a game like this together. I'm just happy we put it together now. It's definitely a confidence booster for us.''
The Bulldogs ended their season with a 23-6 record.
Waterloo pitcher Tiffany Harbison struck out eight and walked four.
Kaitlyn Storm and Annie Crouch each singled in the first inning for the Bulldogs.
Freshman pitcher Maci Ingram threw a two-hitter as the Nashville Hornettes edged the Du Quoin Indians 2-1 in the championship game of the Class 2A Pinckneyville Sectional.
Ingram struck out 10 and walked one.
"It wasn't easy,'' Witte said of the sectional title. "It was a high-stress game, but it just worked out for us today.''
The Indians scored a run in the first inning when Jessica Hirsch led off with a triple and scored on a ground out to short by Aubrey Davis.
Ingram didn't give up another hit until the seventh inning.
The Hornettes scored both of their runs in the third inning.
Emily Thompson reached on an error to lead off the inning. Thompson went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jordi Harre, advanced to third on a ground out by Nicole Deering and scored on a single by Kiley Pelker.
After Pelker stole second, Shaye Harre doubled to bring home the go-ahead run.
The Indians had runners at first and second in the seventh when Ingram got a fly out to left field to end the game.
Du Quoin pitcher Alexis Kohrs allowed five hits. She struck out six.
"Six strike outs for Kohrs, I'll take that,'' Witte said. "We put the ball in play pretty good, and we had some other opportunities. We had a runner on third in the first inning and didn't score with one out. We had runners on to start the fifth and sixth, and we just couldn't get one.''
The Hornettes (32-4) will play the Alton Marquette Explorers (25-2) at 11 a.m. Monday in the Class 2A Nashville Super-Sectional.
Alton Marquette nipped Robinson 1-0 behind Alexis Silkwood's no-hitter.
"We get a chance to play at home to go to the state tournament,'' Witte said. "That doesn't happen too often. We know Silkwood is a great pitcher and Marquette is a good team. We hope we can scratch a run here or there, play good catch and get good pitching.''
Civic Memorial Regional
Kelsey Bailey homered and drove in three runs as the Triad Knights beat the Civic Memorial Eagles 7-3 in the championship game of the Class 3A Civic Memorial Regional.
Mycala Feldman and Kaci Ovelgoenner also collected RBIs for the Knights, who scored three runs in the first inning, a run in the fifth inning and three runs in the sixth.
Bailey also was the winning pitcher. She allowed six hits, while striking out three and walking two.
The Knights (24-9) advance to play the Centralia Orphan Annies (23-10) at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Class 3A Effingham Sectional.
Centralia beat Carbondale 11-2 Saturday for the championship of the Marion Regional.