BELLEVILLE — Hitting a home run over the fence at the Belleville East softball diamond has been one of senior Brittany Hodge's goals since her freshman season.
Hodge accomplished that feat not once, but twice in the same game in leading the Lancers to a 27-0 rout of the Althoff Crusaders on Monday.
Hodge hit a two-run home in the first inning and a three-run homer in the second inning.
"I've been working for four years to try and hit a home run," Hodge said. "I just try to do what coach tells me, sit back and drive the ball. It finally worked today."
East coach Natalie Peters said Hodge has shown home-run power in practice.
"She hits them out in practice a lot, but she's never gotten one out here in a game," Peters said. "That first one, which I think was more of an outside pitch that she hit out, I told her, 'I don't think you can hit a ball any better than that.' For her to get a second one ... it was definitely a big night for her."
As the Lancers' No. 2 hitter behind speedster Kayla Fields, Hodge is asked to take lot of pitches to allow Fields to steal bases.
Hodge's patience allowed Fields to steal second and third in the first inning before she sent a 1-1 pitch over the fence in right field.
"I was really hoping it was going to be in a regional game, but it feels good to get one," Hodge said.
The win enabled the Lancers to claim the city championship in softball. They beat Belleville West 8-2 on April 11.
"It's always nice to win a city title," Peters said. "I think the history and tradition of softball here in Belleville is awesome. It definitely means something to the girls to win that."
The Lancers (23-4), who have a rematch with the Maroons on Tuesday at Belleville West, collected 20 hits off three Althoff pitchers.
Fields went 3-for-3 with four stolen bases, four runs scored and three RBIs, Alison Mitts went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, Haley Wroten went 3-for-4 with four runs scored and Andrea Roberts went 1-for-1 with four runs scored.
"It had been a few games since we felt like we had actually hit the ball like we are capable of, and our goal tonight was to swing at strikes and hit line drives," Peters said. "Our ultimate goal was to get hits up and down our lineup, and our girls did a great job of that."
The Crusaders (1-13), who have had a hard time getting in games due to the wet weather this spring, ran into a buzzsaw in the Lancers.
"We just can't get in a good groove, and when we play these teams with a lot of talent, we kind of lose our confidence," Althoff coach Mike Dori said. "It was like nonstop there for us."
The game was supposed to be a home game for the Crusaders, but it was moved to Belleville East because Althoff's field was not playable.
"It has been a struggle," Dori said of trying to get any continuity this season. "When you don't play that often and you take on teams that have played a lot more games and are good to start with, it makes it very difficult."
The Crusaders are scheduled to play six more games this week.
Mitts and freshman Angela VanderPluym combined on a three-hit shutout.
Mitts threw the first three innings, while VanderPluym set down the Crusaders in order in the fourth and fifth innings.
Madison Weilbacher, Ashely Gagen and Tory Lanaghan all singled for the Crusaders.
Contact reporter Steve Korte at email@example.com or 239-2522.