The Belleville East Lancers found their missing offense just in time to salvage a victory on the day they rededicated their softball field after longtime coach Rita Menke.
With a crowd of alumni players, former administrators, members of the East baseball team, about 50 junior Lancers and Menke's teaching colleagues watching, the Lancers pounded out 16 hits in a 12-3 revenge win over the crosstown Belleville West Maroons.
West knocked off the Lancers this past Thursday in a game East coach Natalie Peters said was one of her team's worst performances of the year. It was a different story on the newly dedicated diamond Tuesday.
"We know our offense is capable of scoring a lot of runs every time out, but for some reason, we've just not been doing that as consistently as I'd like to," Peter said. "It was good night to get things going offensively, and we got contributions from absolutely everybody in the lineup."
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East took an early lead in the first on Alex Boze's RBI single, but the Maroons tagged East starter Stephanie Bigham for three in the third to take the lead. Bigham, a sophomore, was perfect through the first two innings but allowed two-out RBI hits to Abigail Gibson and Claire Marlen, and walked Paige Cates with the bases loaded.
To end the rally, Peters turned to senior Kristina Bettis, who took the loss to the Maroons in the pitcher's circle last week.
"It was not my best start," said Bettis, who will play next year at Jefferson College. "But Mackynzee Dalle made a really good play earlier in the game, and it made me feel like the defense was going to have my back no matter what today."
Bettis did what she does best: pitching strikes and letting her defense do the work behind her. She hit a batter in the sixth but otherwise gave up just two West hits in the final 4 1/3 innings.
"We wanted to do something different to keep West on their toes, and Bettis came in and slammed the door," Peters said.
The Lancers, meanwhile, got hits in all but the ninth spot of their lineup.
Jasmine Poore slammed a three-run home run during a five-run third that put East on top for good. Bettis made it a 7-3 lead in the sixth with a solo home run from the leadoff spot. She scored four runs during the game.
Sophomore Kenzie Crowder had two hits and three RBIs out of the No. 7 spot in the lineup. Boze, who entered the game with a team-leading .554 batting average, went 4 for 4 with two runs scored and her 20th RBI of the year.
Junior Allysa Krausz and freshman Avery Patton each had three hits and two RBIs for East.
The Lancers (15-4, 6-2 Southwestern Conference) next play at home against Collinsville on Thursday. The Maroons (9-6), who had won six games in a row, face Nashville on Wednesday.