Eagles offense set to take flight again

The 2015 Columbia High School softball team. For photos of all area spring sports teams, click here.

The Columbia High School softball team is planning to reload in 2015 rather than rebuild.

The team finished with a record of 34-3 in 2014, falling just short of a trip to the Class 3A state tournament.

There’s no doubt Brianna Weilbacher, currently pitching at Iowa State, was a key part of last year’s success. Not only was she nearly unhittable on the mound, but she also led the team with 15 home runs at the plate.

Other than Weilbacher, everyone from last year’s team returns. And if last year’s numbers are any indication of what’s ahead this season, the Eagles should have plenty of hits and runs to go around.

Kaylee Bastien led the team last year with a .508 average and hit a team-high 21 doubles.

Taryn Pena, who has already signed a letter of intent to play at Drake University following graduation, hit .477 at the catcher position last year.

Other key returning players include Rachel Garcia (.469, eight home runs), Courtney Weilbacher (.446), Kalli Farmer (.441, 51 runs scored) and Caitlyn Touchette (.434, 11 home runs).

Two more returning starters who are expected to shine for the Eagles this season are Kelly Metter and Claire Foster.

“I am excited to see what this year’s team can accomplish and am confident they will be successful,” Columbia head coach Rhonda Major said. “We have some good leaders and great team chemistry, which is always important.”

Handling mound duty this season will be Brina Rujawitz, who posted a 5-0 record last season with a 1.93 ERA. Britny Edwards is also expected to see action on the mound.

Both posted wins over the weekend as the Eagles swept a Saturday doubleheader over Piasa Southwestern, 11-1 and 15-4.

“While Bri (Weilbacher) will be hard to replace, our pitchers have been working hard and I am excited to have them pitching this season,” Major said. “They have been improving and competing each day and they know they will have a strong defense and offense behind them, which will help make them even more confident.”

On offense, Garcia, Bastien and Pena each went 6-for-9 at the plate in Saturday’s doubleheader sweep. Farmer collected five hits and Courtney Weilbacher added four hits.

“We have eight returning players with a ton of varsity experience,” Major said. “They all work hard to be the best we can possibly be. We also have some strong underclassmen that I am excited to see add success to the program.”

The Eagles played Tuesday at Belleville West, and will play Thursday at Mascoutah before taking on Gibault in the Monroe County Tournament set for Friday at the Waterloo Sports Association fields.

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Corey Saathoff

Corey is the editor of the Republic-Times. He has worked at the newspaper since 2004, and currently resides in Columbia. He is also the principal singer-songwriter and plays guitar in St. Louis area country-rock band The Trophy Mules.
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