Gillian Sinnott wasn't too happy with her approach at the plate against Francis Scott Key pitcher Morgan May, enough that the Century junior's displeasure dated back to the last time their teams faced each other.
Sinnott, the county's leader in RBIs, recalls going hitless in five at-bats against May before Century hosted FSK in Friday's Class 2A West Section 2 quarterfinal.
The breakthrough occurred in the fifth inning during a close contest, when Sinnott solved May for one pitch. Her RBI double, a liner that landed near the wall in center field, gave the Knights an insurance run en route to a 4-1 victory.
"That was really nice ... a big relief," Sinnott said. "And I love picking the team up and it's a great feeling."
Century (13-8) seemed to need it, particularly after trailing 1-0 in the third inning. The Eagles (2-13) scored without registering a hit — Kaesey Greene walked and later scampered home on a fielder's choice, but FSK left the bases loaded to end the frame.
The Knights took a 2-1 lead in their half of the third behind a double from pitcher Allyson Windell, and scored two more times in the fifth. Sinnott's double sailed over Greene's head and went far enough to score Brianna Kessler, making it 3-1. Olivia Carmack followed with a single to right, and the Knights had a three-run lead.
Windell did the rest by retiring the final seven batters in order, and the junior finished with six strikeouts.
Century swept FSK in the regular season by a combined 17-3, so first-year coach Stephanie Haines said her players needed the confidence boost given by Sinnott & Co.
Francis Scott Key committed two errors but also played solid defense at times, with Berna Blocher and Gabby Archie making big plays at third base and shortstop. May held Century scoreless in the first despite having the bases loaded, then had a 1-2-3 inning ni the fourth.
First baseman Olivia Zepp made a diving catch in foul ground near her team's dugout for the final out of the third inning, and the play got the Eagles excited.
"Being down against them 1-0 was ... not heartache, but it was frustrating," Haines said. "That foul ball that was caught by [Zepp], plays like that usually kill any sort of [momentum] and deflates the team, but we worked past it."
Key just couldn't come up with enough offense in the end. But coach Thom Vickery said he wasn't disappointed with the effort.
"In games like this, outs are precious," Vickery said. "You know, they played hard I'm not disappointed, even a little bit. Those girls played hard. This game, it's so much more than about softball. Work ethic will take these girls a long way."
Meanwhile, Century gets set to face another county foe in the next round. South Carroll, the county champion, defeated Oakland Mills on Friday, so the Cavaliers host the Knights on Monday in the sectional semifinals.
South Carroll won both regular season matchups, but only by a combined four runs. SC won 3-2 on April 29 in Winfield.
The Knights have won five of seven, however, and Sinnott said she knows the reason for the team's latest success.
"The big thing for us is confidence," Sinnott said. "We have a lot of underclassmen ... who maybe don't think they should be here, but we're on our way to victory and we're making sure they know they're here."
Francis Scott Key 001 000 0 — 1 3 2
Century 002 020 x — 4 5 1
FSK-Morgan May, Kaesey Greene (6) and Kayla Green; C-Allyson Windell and Gillian Sinnott. 2B: C-Chichi Ahulamibe, Windell, Sinnott. WP: Windell. LP: May.