BELLEVILLE — After a shaky start, O'Fallon freshman pitcher Addison Barnouski settled into a groove.
Barnouski retired the final 14 Collinsville hitters in order as the Panthers beat the Kahoks 10-3 Tuesday in the Class 4A Belleville East Softball Regional.
"I thought she pitched really well," O'Fallon coach Katie Walsh said. "Maybe in the first inning there were some jitters with her being a freshman in the regional. I thought she settled down and threw a great game. Our defense settled down, too."
The Kahoks scored three runs on three hits in the top of the first inning.
"You don't want to do that," Walsh said. "I was a little nervous, but not really. It was the first inning and we have some hitters on this team that will step up and hit the ball."
The Panthers came back with two runs in the bottom of the first inning and then pushed across seven runs in the bottom of the second inning to take charge of the game.
"That took the pressure off," Barnouski said of the Panthers' first-inning rally. "It felt like we were coming back."
Barnouski got the call against the Kahoks because senior pitcher Taylor Bowlby has a sore arm.
Walsh said the Panthers don't know if Bowlby will be available to pitch on Saturday in the championship game of the Belleville East Regional.
"We're checking that out, so I have no idea," Walsh said. "Addie is doing a great job. She's moving it around. I'm pretty confident either way.
The Panthers (23-8) will play either Belleville East or Belleville West at 11 a.m. Saturday. The two Belleville schools square off for the third time this season at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Walsh said she had no preference on her next opponent.
"I don't care, we'll play anybody," Walsh said. "It'll probably be a good game tomorrow. It'll be fun to watch."
The Kahoks closed out their season with a 17-19 record. They'll return their entire starting lineup from the regional.
"We'll bring every single person back from the starting lineup today," Collinsville coach Cindy Kolda said. "I will lose three seniors who have done a good job. But, we're really young. Anytime you have four freshman and three sophomores, you have to look for an learning experience out of this."
Kolda said she hopes the experience the young Kahoks gained this year will pay off next year.
"I'll have entire lineup that has one or two years of varsity experience, and actually a couple of girls who have three years of varsity experience," Kolda said. "We'll work hard in the offseason, we'll play summer ball and hopefully good things will happen."
The Kahoks rallied for three runs with two outs in the first inning.
Alex Holten drew a walk and Kassidy Smith and Samantha Buettner followed with singles to load the bases. Becky Gibbs doubled into right-center field to bring home two runs.
Buettner came home on a wild pitch.
Becca Proper and Barnouski had RBI singles with two outs in the first to bring home Sam Ralphs and Bowlby.
The Panthers collected four hits, including a two-run single by Sami Stadts, during the seven-run second inning.
The rally was fueled by five walks.
Collinsville freshman starter Sidney Bost was relieved by freshman Caitlyn Brombolich in the second inning.
Brombolich gave up a sacrifice fly by Allison Underwood and an RBI single by Sam Busekrus before getting out of the jam.
The Panthers added a run in the third on back-to-back doubles by Stadts and Bowlby.
Barnouski allowed seven hits, but none after the third inning in running her record to 10-5.
"The plan was to score early, and the plan was to score often," Kolda said. "We let up at the plate a little bit after the first inning.
Contact reporter Steve Korte at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2522.