BELLEVILLE — Belleville West pitcher Rebecca Touchette knows it's time to bear down whenever there are runners on base.
Touchette surrendered only four hits and no earned runs as the Maroons beat the Althoff Crusaders 6-1 on Wednesday in girls softball.
The Crusaders had at least one runner on base in every inning except the second when Touchette struck out the side.
"Rebecca has a different level of focus when she has runners on base than when she doesn't have runners on,'' West coach Bob Yagge said. "She gets a little more serious and zoned in. She's a very accomplished pitcher.''
Touchette, who struck out five and walked three, said her arm felt especially good before the game. She also was able to effectively mix in her curveball, which has been a problem pitch for her.
"My curveball hasn't been working, but I had it working pretty well this game,'' Touchette said. "Then my riseball was on. I got a few strikeouts on that.''
The Maroons scored three runs in the third inning and three runs in the fifth. They collected all six of their hits off Althoff freshman pitcher Tori Lonsdale in those two innings.
"We were pretty efficient with our hits to bring in runs when we had people on base,'' Yagge said.
Taylor Puuri and Touchette, the No. 3 and cleanup hitter in the Maroons' lineup, both drove in two runs.
The Maroons improved to 8-6, while the Crusaders dropped to 1-8.
Despite the loss, Althoff coach Mike Dori felt like his squad showed improvement.
"We played much better toddy,'' Dori said. "The hustle was there throughout the game. I'm proud of the girls. We just didn't make the most of the opportunities when we had runners in scoring position. We're going to get those.''
Ashley Gagen got on base in all three of her trips to the plate for the Crusaders, singling twice and reaching on an error.
"She played really well today,'' Dori said. "She's focused this year. She's hungry. It's fun to watch her right now.''
The Maroons pushed across three runs in the third inning.
Sarah Wessel was hit by a pitch with one out, Alliyah St. John singled to right field and Emily Fulton beat out a bunt single to load the bases.
Puuri hit a grounder to the shortstop, but the second baseman dropped the exchange on a potential force play at second. Wessel scored on the error.
St. John scored on a wild pitch and Fulton scored on a ground out to third base by Touchette.
"It gave me more confidence, and it gave me more leeway in what pitches I could throw,'' Touchette said of being staked to the 3-0 lead.
St. John sparked a three-run rally in the fifth inning with a bunt single.
Puuri doubled past third base with one out, scoring St. John. Then Touchette singled home Puuri.
Brittney Barlow drew a walk and Hannah Slimack singled home courtesy runner Alyssa Lang.
The Crusaders got a run in the sixth inning when Gagen ended up on second base on a throwing error by the shortstop, advanced to third on a groundout by Bridget Cook and scored on a two-out single by Lonsdale.
Contact reporter Steve Korte at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2522.