Seeds: (1) Columbia, (2) Waterloo, (3) Freeburg, (4) Althoff, (5) Cahokia
Could surprise: Waterloo
Notes: The Eagles (27-5) are looking to make an extended postseason run despite moving up from Class 2A to Class 3A. ... The Eagles are scoring a whopping 10.3 runs per game. ... Columbia sophomore catcher Taryn Pena is the leading hitter in the metro-east with a .608 batting average. She has eight homers and 49 RBIs. ... The Eagles have six other starters hitting over .400, while pitcher Brianna Weilbacher has a 15-3 record with a 1.39 ERA and pitcher Kaitlin Grohman has an 11-2 record with a 2.71 ERA. ... Columbia beat Waterloo 7-0 on April 25. ... The Bulldogs are a threat with senior Tiffany Harbison, who has an 8-5 record with an 1.82 ERA, on the mound. ... Annie Crouch carries the big stick in Waterloo's lineup. She's hitting .547 with seven homers and 40 RBIs. ... Freeburg senior Ashley Elbe is hitting .464. ... Althoff has had a magical touch in the regional, winning titles in three of the last four seasons.
Seeds: (1) Alton Marquette, (2) Triad, (3) Civic Memorial, (4) Highland, (5) East St. Louis
Favorite: Alton Marquette
Could surprise: Triad
Notes: One of the finest all-around players in the state, Marquette pitcher Alexis Silkwood will be making her final postseason appearance. However, this time, it's in Class 3A. She led the Explorers to a third-place finish in Class 2A as a sophomore and a third-place finish in Class 2A as a freshman. ... The Mississippi State-bound Silkwood holds state career records for wins (118), strikeouts (more than 1,800) and no-hitters (54). She's allowed only five earned runs this season and struck out an average of two batters per inning this year. She's also hitting a team-leading .538 with a team-leading 40 RBIs. ... Triad's Kelsey Bailey also is a dual threat. Bailey has a 9-2 record with a 2.04 ERA on the mound and a .431 batting average with four homers and 23 RBIs at the plate for the Mississippi Valley Conference champions. ... Bailey's sister, Jen, has a 6-1 record with an 0.98 ERA ,while Jordyn Alford is hitting a team-leading .538.
Seeds: (1) Mater Dei, (2) Centralia, (3) Olney East Richland, (4) Salem, (5) Mascoutah
Favorite: Mater Dei
Could surprise: Centralia
Notes: The Mater Dei Knights have been up and down this season, but they enter the playoffs on a five-game winning streak. ... The Knights are led by their battery of pitcher Jamie Voss and catcher Molly Fields. Voss has a 10-5 record with a 2.38 ERA, while Fields is hitting .552 with 24 RBIs. ... The Knights swept a doubleheader from Centralia, 10-0 and 7-2, on April 22. ... Olney East Richland (22-10) has posted its first 20-win season in history of its softball program. The Tigers' Rachel Wisner has belted 30 homers in her career, including 12 this season.
Seeds: (1) O'Fallon, (2) Belleville East, (3) Belleville West, (4) Collinsville
Could surprise: East or West
Notes: The O'Fallon Panthers are seeking their fifth straight regional title. ... The Panthers split games with both East and West during Southwestern Conference play. ... The Panthers have clubbed 25 homers with Taylor Underwood and Taylor Bowlby leading the way with seven apiece. Underwood is hitting .543 with a team-high 41 RBIs, while Bowlby is hitting .550 with 28 RBIs. ... The Bradley University-bound Bowlby also has a 13-3 record with a 1.30 ERA on the mound. ... East and West will write another chapter in their long rivalry in the first round. East beat West twice -- 8-2 on April 11 and 3-0 on May 8 -- in SWC play this season. ... West coach Bob Yagge, who came out of retirement this season when coach Casey Garrett went on maternity leave, is known for having teams that peak in the playoffs. ... Alliyah St. John sets the table (.405 batting average and 29 runs scored) and Rebecca Touchette (.380 batting average and 27 RBIs) cleans it off for the Maroons. ... Collinsville's Kassidy Smith is hitting a team-leading .468. She and Alex Houton share the team RBI lead with 28.
Granite City Regional
Seeds: (1) Alton, (2) Edwardsville, (3) Quincy, (4) Granite City
Could surprise: Alton
Notes: This regional is really a two-horse race. ... Alton (28-5) and Edwardsville (27-3) split their two Southwestern Conference games with Alton winning 5-2 in Alton and Edwardsville winning 13-0 in Edwardsville. ... The Redbirds have won 10 of their last 11 games with the lone loss coming to Edwardsville. ... Alton junior pitcher Morgan Butler has a 22-4 record with a 2.24 ERA. ... Georgia Dodson is hitting .476 with 45 runs scored, while Jordyn Roady is hitting .324 with 36 RBIs for the Redbirds, who haven't won a regional since winning back-to-back titles in 2005 and 2006. ... The SWC champion Tigers have won 15 straight games. They tuned up for the postseason by beating Marquette and Silkwood 2-0 on Saturday. ... Edwardsville pitcher Amber Toenyes is 13-2 with a 1.51 ERA. Toenyes and Rachel Anderson are the Tigers' leading hitters. Toenyes is hitting .538 with a team-leading nine homers and 38 RBIs, while Anderson has a team-leading .585 batting average with 32 runs scored. ... Edwardsville also beat Quincy 10-0 in six innings on Saturday.
-- Steve Korte