If capturing their second straight regional title wasn't enough incentive, the Belleville East Lancers had the extra motivation of seeing their coaches perform a dance called "The Wobble'' if they won.
Alison Mitts struck out 11 as the Lancers beat the Belleville West Maroons 8-2 on Saturday in the championship game of the Class 4A Belleville East Softball Regional.
After the game, the Lancers along with coach Natalie Peters and her staff did "The Wobble'' on the infield at the East softball diamond.
The Lancers originally performed the dance as they were getting the field ready before the game, but Peters refused to join in.
"She said, 'I will only dance for you guys if you win,''' East catcher Andrea Roberts said.
"That's all we talked about the whole time, 'Can't wait to dance with the coaches afterwards,''' Mitts said.
Peters kept her word after the game.
"This morning we had to get here early and we were just trying to keep them loose and they were doing a bunch of different dances. Just having a good time.,'' Peters said. "You want them to win, but you also want them to have fun at the same time.''
Staying loose was important for the Lancers, who scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning only to see the Maroons tie the game with two runs in the top of the second.
"I think that is everything for us because we do get tight and press a lot,'' Mitts said. "The fact that we were really loose today completely helped.''
The Lancers answered with four runs in the bottom of the second and another two runs in the bottom of the third.
"It completely reassured me that we could keep the score how it was,'' Mitts said of the second-inning rally. "It was so much support on the mound because even if they do get a hit, it's a not a big deal because we have those runs. That was just uplifting.''
The Lancers (28-9) will play the Edwardsville Tigers (34-3) at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at the O'Fallon City Park in the O'Fallon Sectional.
The Tigers beat the Alton Redbirds 11-2 Saturday in the championship game of the Edwardsville Regional.
"It's a big matchup,'' said Peters, whose team lost 8-0 and 3-1 to the Tigers during the regular season. "They've handled us this year. We have to try our best to put our best game out there against them on Tuesday.''
The Maroons ended their season at 16-17. They committed five errors that led to three unearned runs.
"I've talked about this roller coaster that we've been on this whole season, and we weren't at the peak today,'' West coach Casey Garrett said.
The Lancers went 2-1 against the Maroons this season in a city series that was a roller-coaster ride in itself.
The Lancers won the first meeting 19-0 and the Maroons won the second meeting 4-2.
"That just shows anything can happen on any given day,'' said Roberts, who went 3-for-4 in leading the Lancers' seven-hit attack in the third matchup. "It doesn't necessary mean that one team is better than the other. It's just what team is going to show up and be better that day. We had everything going our way today. It's nice.''
Mitts surrendered only three hits. She held the Maroons scoreless over the final five innings and hitless over the final four innings.
"The second inning is the only time that she got in even a little bit of trouble and it started with a leadoff walk, which we are trying to eliminate,'' Peters said. "She pretty much controlled the game after the second inning. She had a great game today.''
The Lancers scored two runs in the first inning.
Mitts was hit by a pitch and Erinn Henry and Haley Wroten drew back-to-back walks to load the bases.
Roberts singled home courtesy runner Brianna Batson and Lindsey Mossman brought home Henry with a ground out to third base.
Hannah Biermann's two-run double tied the score at 2-2 in the top of the second.
Biermann's drive to right field plated Olivia Young and Hannah Slimack.
The Lancers quickly regained the lead as Haley Wroten's two-run double to left-center field highlighted the four-run, second-inning rally.
Aided by three West errors, the Lancers padded their lead with two more runs in the third.
An infield single by Annie Eversman was the Lancers' lone hit in the inning.
Freshman pitcher Chloe Holtrop relieved West starter McKenzie Sisk at the start of the fourth inning. Holtop threw three scoreless innings.
"I brought in a few different faces today to get them some postseason experience because we are a young team,'' said Hunter, who will lose only two seniors (Slimack and Cassie Craig) to graduation.
Contact reporter Steve Korte at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2522.