Now’s the time to shine for local high school softball teams aiming to collect hardware for the trophy case as regionals begin this week.
Columbia (14-9) won 3-1 at Carlyle last Wednesday in nine innings in regular season action. Taylor Holten went 3-for-4 with a home run, double and two RBIs for the Eagles, who also got a complete game two-hitter from pitcher Julia Foster.
A scheduled rivalry game against Waterloo on Thursday was canceled due to weather.
Columbia opens Class 2A regional play by hosting Flora at 4:30 p.m. Thursday. With a win, the Eagles play Friday in the regional final. Other teams in this regional are Althoff, Fairfield and Nashville.
Columbia’s offense is led by Ava Khoury (.377, five home runs, 25 RBIs), Kaitlyn Bearley (.355), Kylie Cleveland (.353, 22 runs) and Holten (.323, five home runs, 17 RBIs).
Foster is 8-3 with a 2.99 ERA in the pitching circle.
Waterloo (14-10) won 4-3 against Triad last Wednesday but lost 10-3 and 6-2 to Freeburg on Saturday to conclude regular season play.
Taylor Wilson went 2-for-4 in game one on Saturday and Jane Kaniecki went 3-for-4 in game two for the Bulldogs.
Waterloo’s offense is led by Kaniecki (.563, five home runs, 37 RBIs, 36 runs), Maddie Davis (.422, 22 runs) and Wilson (.395, 32 runs).
Waterloo hosts Olney in Class 3A regional play at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. The regional final is Thursday. Other teams in this regional are Centralia and Mt. Vernon.
Valmeyer (10-5) won 15-9 last Tuesday at Red Bud and won 9-4 in nine innings at Steeleville last Wednesday before falling at home to Steeleville, 3-2, on Monday.
Jakimauskas homered in last Wednesday’s win.
Valmeyer’s offense is led by freshman Brooke Miller (.431, 21 runs), followed by Jakimauskas (.420, 18 RBIs) and Aspen Schmidt (.412, 15 RBIs).
Pitching leaders for the Pirates are Miller (5-2, 2.77 ERA) and Schmidt (3-1, 1.80 ERA).
Valmeyer begins Class 1A regional play at home vs. Dupo (1-11) at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. The winner plays the winner of Bunker Hill/Okawville on Thursday for the regional title.
The Tigers lost 15-4 last Tuesday at New Athens. Maddie Ehrhard went 3-for-3 with two doubles and a triple and Kyann Prater went 2-for-3 with three RBIs for Dupo.
Prater is hitting .367 with 10 RBIs for the Tigers.
Gibault (0-7) plays in Class 1A Regional C under Sectional 7 and will host Metro East Lutheran at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Senior members of the Hawks softball squad are Melissa Bernal, Briana Gannon, Mary Clare Murphy and Maliyah Phillips.
The IHSA state softball finals are June 16-17 in Peoria.