The Columbia Eagles are heading to the Columbia Class 3A Sectional Finals after defeating the Marion Wildcats 11-4 on Tuesday.
The game was expected to begin at 4:30 p.m. until Marion’s bus broke down 30 minutes outside of Marion, causing an hour delay.
“We had a little delay there and you never know how that’s going to effect anybody, but I was confident that the girls would take care of it and I was real pleased with the way we came out and scored four runs right away,” said Columbia coach Rhonda Major.
Columbia (26-4) advances to the 3A sectional finals at 11 a.m. Saturday. The Eagles will play the winner of the semifinal game between Highland and Herrin on Wednesday.
The Eagles extended a 3-0 lead with two more runs in the third inning when senior Kelly Metter led off with the first of her two home runs. She finished 3-for-4 at the plate with the two long balls and a double.
“It’s been going that way all season long; it’s not just one, two, or three hitters, it’s everybody contributing,” said Major. “Today was the top of the order and Kelly did a great job.”
The Wildcats cut the Eagles lead to 7-3 at the top of the fourth inning after Morgan Andrews launched a three-run blast, cutting into the Eagles momentum.
The Eagles got it back, though, after Chelsy Pena and Kelly Metter smacked back-to-back home runs in the fourth inning, making it 9-3.
Pena went 3-for-4 with a home run and two doubles along with three RBIs.
Keeler VanBreusegen contributed going 2-for-3 with a double and a triple with three RBIs. Calli Wibbenmeyer also went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI to lead the Eagles offense.
Columbia were efficient in the win, stranding just three base runners in the game.
“At this point in the season that’s extremely important no matter who you’re playing,” said Major. “You got to be able to get those runs in so, I thought we did a great job executing and taking care of business.”
Kaelyn Rheinecker was the winning pitcher for Columbia, allowing five hits and four runs in seven innings of work.
Alley Dunaway took the loss for Marion. Morgan Andrews finished 1-for-3 with a home run and three RBIs, and Morgan Dodd finished 1-for-3 with a triple to lead the WIldcats’ attack.