The Columbia Eagles clinched the championship of the Freeburg Class 3A Regional with a 5-1 win over Alton Marquette on Saturday.
“Something that I’m really impressed with about this team is that it’s not the same person everyday,” said Eagles head coach Rhonda Major. There’s been points in the season where it’s been the top of our lineup, and then other times, like today, is an example of how the bottom of the lineup did a good job.
“We were able to capitalize off of their mistakes and score on them. We just continued to battle up there. We had a little spark, and we just kept going with it, and I think that says a lot about this group.”
Columbia (27-4) advances to its own sectional tournament. The Eagles will play Marion in the semifinals Monday at 4:30 p.m.
The Eagles finally got on the board after an RBI double by Calli Wibbenmeyer in the fourth inning, bringing Kelly Metter around to score the game’s first run.
The Explorers were able to match with an Emma Taylor RBI double at the top of the fifth inning, bringing Emma Nicholson across to score tying the game at 1-1.
After a lead-off single by Keeler VanBreusegen in the bottom of the fifth inning, the Eagles’ No. 9 hitter, Brittany Edwards, laid down a sacrifice bunt that was overthrown into right field, bringing both VanBreusegen and Edwards around to score. Two more runs crossed the plate after a two-out double by Wibbenmeyer to extend the Eagles’ lead to 5-1.
Kaelyn Rheinecker was the winning pitcher for Columbia, allowing five hits and one run in seven innings of work.
Wibbenmeyer went 2 for 3 with a double and three RBIs and Courtney Weilbacher finished 1 for 3 with a double to lead the Eagles offense.
Meghan Schorman took the loss for Marquette. Kyra Green went 2 for 2 with a pair of singles, and Gracie Morris ended the afternoon 1 for 3 with a double to lead the Explorers’ attack.
After the Eagles’ four-run fifth inning, Schorman struck out the side in the sixth inning, but the Explorers were unable to get anything going on offense.
“I think as long as we just keep playing the way we know we can play and keep doing the little things, I’m excited to see what we can do,” said Major.