Lexi Touchette belted two home runs, just missed another, and drove in seven runs in a 11-5 Columbia softball win at Belleville West Tuesday.
The sophomore slugger’s third-inning grand slam gave the Eagles the lead for good, and her three-run home run in the sixth ended up being the game-winner.
The Maroons walked Touchette the fourth time they faced her rather than give her the chance to drive in three more runs.
“It feels like she’s older than a sophomore because she’s done great things for the program already,” said Columbia coach Rhonda Major. “She sees the ball really well and can handle herself at the plate, but was definitely in a groove today.”
She wasn’t the only one.
The Eagles (3-0) pounded out 11 hits, two each from catcher Chelsy Pena, shortstop Kelly Metter, designated hitter Callie Wibbenmeyer, and Touchette, who is batting .667 with three home runs and 14 RBIs through three games.
Allyson Winkleman pitched the Maroons through two scoreless innings before being hit in the torso by a Courtney Weilbacher line drive that led off the third. Metter then reached on an error, and Wibbenmeyer singled to load the bases for Touchette.
“I think anytime a pitcher gets hit, it affects them — not just physically, but mentally,” said West coach Casey Garrett. “I would have taken her out right then, but she wanted to keep going, and I wasn’t sure my other pitcher was warm.”
Touchette, who was retired on a towering fly ball to left field at the end of the first inning, sent a Winkleman pitch high over the fence in straight-away center field.
“I thought I should have hit that pitch better (in the first inning), but I put it behind me and just wanted to put a better swing on the ball the next time up,” Touchette said. “I try not to think too much when I’m at the plate. I mostly just try to have fun and look for a good pitch to hit.”
Sophomore Mackenzie Skaer retired the next six Columbia batters in relief of Winkleman. But a bloop single and walk put runners on ahead of Touchette with one out in the fifth. She hit the first pitch she saw from Skaer to the same spot she hit Winkleman’s last pitch.
Columbia added four runs in the sixth, two on a single by Metter, another unearned and a fourth on an illegal pitch with a runner at third base.
West scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh, two on a home run by catcher Kiri Evans and a third on an RBI single from Skaer.
The Maroons (0-3) had 13 hits in the game including a 3-for-4 performance from senior third baseman Isabella “Izzy” Holtrop. Alyssa James, Skaer, and freshman Claire Marlen had two hits each, while Tori Oldham and Abby Gibson each had one. Marlen and Gibson both picked up RBIs in the second inning.
Mikaela Kossina got the win in the pitcher’s circle for Columbia.