COLUMBIA — In a sport usually dominated by pitching, hitting ruled the day in a game between the Columbia Eagles and Belleville East Lancers.
Taryn Pena and Brianna Weilbacher each had three hits to lead a 13-hit assault as the Eagles outslugged the Lancers 9-6 Friday in a nonconference softball game.
"I'm real proud of my girls," Columbia coach Rhonda Major said. "We've been having some real good at-bats. I like what they are doing. We're having some real disciplined at-bats."
The Eagles improved to 7-1, with their lone loss being a 3-2 decision against Shelbyville and hard-throwing pitcher Grace Moll.
"All-around we are playing pretty darn solid," Major said. "We have a great group of girls and we have great team chemistry. I think we are jelling. We just have to keep doing what we have been doing."
Weilbacher pitched all seven inning for the Eagles. She got a grounder to the shortstop for the final out with runners at second and third in the seventh.
"She has been great for us on the mound this year," Major said of Weilbacher, a junior who struck out 10 and walked four. "She has toughened up mentally, and I think that shows a lot about her. She brings a lot to this team, and she will continue to do so."
The Lancers, who will conclude a busy week with a road game against Civic Memorial on Saturday, fell to 7-3.
"There are two roads that you can take as far as your strength of schedule, and we've always tended to take the harder route for a reason," East coach Natalie Peters said. "You're going to get better when you play better teams. This is a very good game for us, and Columbia is a very good team. I'm not taking anything away from them."
The top eight hitters in the Eagles' lineup all hit safely in the game.
Pena doubled twice and drove in three runs, while Weilbacher helped her own cause by collecting three singles and a walk.
"They just hit the heck out of the softball today, and we made some mistakes that let them stay on a roll," Peters said. "I think that kept their momentum rolling."
Columbia got a run in the second inning on a single by Weilbacher, a double by Pena and an error.
The Eagles pushed across five runs on four hits, two East errors and a walk in the third inning.
Laura Roessler sparked the rally with a one-hop double off the center-field fence and Weilbacher capped the rally with a two-run double to right-center.
The Lancers cut their deficit to 6-2 with two runs in the fourth on a RBI-single by Haley Gegelman and an RBI double by Alison Mitts.
Columbia got a run in the fifth on a single by Weilbacher, a sacrifice bunt by Caitlyn Touchette and a double to center field by freshman Kalli Farmer.
Gegelman brought in Haley Wroten with a double and then later scored on an error as the Lancers closed the gap to 7-4 with two runs in the top of the sixth.
Three straight hits -- a single by Roessler, a well-placed bunt single by Kaylee Bastien and a single by Alexis Royer -- enabled the Eagles to go up 8-4 in the bottom half of the sixth.
After a walk to Weilbacher loaded the bases with no outs, freshman Angela VanderPluym relieved Mitts.
VanderPluym allowed a run to score on a single by Pena, but got out of the inning with no further damage.
Kayla Fields singled, stole second and scored on a two-out double by Haley Wroten in the top of the seventh.
Gegelman walked and the runners moved to second and third on a wild pitch, but Weilbacher induced a grounder to end the East rally and the game.
Contact reporter Steve Korte at email@example.com or 239-2522.