Mikaela Kossina provided the pitching, and Lexi Touchette supplied the power that helped spark the Columbia Eagles to a 12-2 six-inning win over the Mascoutah Indians in a Freeburg Class 3A Regional semifinal Tuesday.
Kossina overcame a rough start, in which she allowed a two-run homer to the Indians’ Kayla Rudolphi in the top of the first inning that staked the Indians to a 2-0 lead, by following it with five innings of shutout softball.
Touchette, meanwhile, quickly erased that deficit with a three-run home run in the bottom of the first. The sophomore later added a long solo blast in the third inning to make it 5-2. She would finish the game 3 for 4 with five RBIs.
“I am proud of the girls, they could have hung their heads after getting down there in the first inning,” said Columbia coach Rhonda Major, whose team put an early end to the game by scoring seven times in the bottom of the sixth. “But I thought we did a great job of keeping it together and doing the little things.
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“We had some key plays that kind of opened up the gates for us. I just like the way we just continued to battle.”
With the win, the Eagles (26-4) advance to Saturday’s 11 a.m. regional championship game against the winner of Wednesday’s semifinal between Alton Marquette (26-4) and Freeburg (16-12).
Mascoutah ends its season 15-16.
“Columbia hit the ball all the way through its order, and we made some mistakes on defense that they capitalized on,” said Mascoutah coach Frank Evans. “We only had two kids back from last year that had any starting experience, so I am OK with how things played out.”
Eight of Kossina’s first 10 pitches of the game failed to find the strike zone, that early wildness setting the stage of Rudolphi’s first-inning homer.
After that, the Indians had just four more baserunners — on three singles and an error — and only once had someone reach third base. The sophomore struck out just two and was helped by a defense which turned in a handful of impressive plays — highlighted by an outstanding throw from left fielder Aryn Henke that cut down Mascoutah’s Bailey Albright trying to stretch a lead-off single in the fifth inning — that helped keep the Indians in check.
“At the start, I was just trying to work them outside to try to keep them from hitting the ball hard,” said Kossina, who improved to 14-2. “But after they hit that home run, I just tried to have confidence in my defense and myself.
“Thankfully, I was able to get the job done.”
Both of Touchette’s home runs came off Mascoutah starter Tieghan Morio with two outs. She later had an RBI single in the game-ending sixth-inning outburst.
It was Touchette’s second two-homer game of the season — she also went deep twice in an 11-5 victory over Belleville West on April 21 — and gives her seven homers on the season to go with 46 RBIs.
“I was just trying to hit it hard, not psych myself out,” said Touchette of her first-inning blast. “Just relax, our team really focuses on hitting so that helps a lot.”
Before Touchette’s solo homer, the Eagles had stretched their lead to 4-2 in the second inning when courtesy runner Britney Edwards singled, stole second and scored on an error by the Mascoutah right fielder.
The Eagles’ big sixth inning was helped along by two more Mascoutah errors, three wild pitches and a hit-by-pitch. Kelly Metter drove in two runs with a double, and Touchette had an RBI single.