The last time Century and South Carroll faced each other in softball, the Cavaliers mounted a big comeback in the final inning and left the Knights reeling.
Emily Kain hadn’t let go of that feeling yet, and the Century senior said she and her teammates used it as motivation to go after the Cavs in Tuesday’s Class 2A West Section 1 semifinals.
“That’s what happened to us in the past two years when we’ve played them,” Kain said. “And it was just like … ‘We’re not going to let it happen a third time.’”
Kain made sure Century exacted its revenge by clubbing a pair of home runs and leading the Knights past SC 11-4. The center fielder reached base four times and scored three runs to go along with her two homers and four RBIs.
Century (10-9) took control in the third inning by batting around and scoring six runs — Madison Sitarek and Caitlin Pfarr smacked back-to-back doubles, followed by RBI singles from Brianna Kessler and Hannah Zabik. The Knights also took advantage of two SC errors, one of which allowed a run to score from third base.
Pfarr scored from second on a wild pitch in the fourth, and was on base in the sixth when Kain sent a three-run blast over the fence in right-center.
Kain seems to be the Knights’ catalyst while also serving as their resident free spirit. She was more than pleased with her white uniform covered in dirt, and a rip in the seat of her pants from earlier in the season still evident.
But Century coach Stephanie Haines said her players were stoked to get back at South Carroll from its 9-8 victory April 29 in Winfield — the Cavaliers scored seven runs in the seventh inning of that game.
“When she’s up, when Cait’s up … when they’re all up, you know it’s going to be a good game,” Haines said.
The Cavaliers led 3-1 in the third inning but couldn’t maintain the lead despite three hits apiece from junior Sydni Carroll and sophomore Olivia Reardon.
Reardon put SC (6-14) on the board in the first inning with an RBI single, and doubled in the third to score Carroll after she doubled to lead off the frame. Carroll scored in the fourth for the third time, cutting Century’s lead to 7-4.
But the Knights tacked on a run in the fourth, and three more in the sixth on Kain’s second long ball.
“We found a groove, put a … winning streak together at the end of the year,” said Cavs coach Matt Cannistraci. “They started to jell and be a little more cohesive as a group. But … we got down, it was a playoff game, they started to press. We made a couple stupid mistakes and it just ballooned from there.”
Tuesday’s game was Cannistraci’s last with South Carroll — the coach said he told his players of his plans to retire after 12 seasons. The Cavaliers won the county championship in 2017, their first in 1982, and made a run to the 2A state finals that season.
This year’s bunch included four freshmen and three sophomores, and Cannistraci said they came together at the right time this spring.
“They fought all year, they gave me absolutely everything that they had,” Cannistraci said. “And that’s all I can ask for.”
For Century, it’s onto the sectional final at home Wednesday against Oakdale, which knocked the Knights out of the playoffs in 2018. Haines reminded her players of that in the dugout after Tuesday’s win, and described it as a “revenge” game.
None of the Knights seemed nervous.
“It’s high school. We’re not in college, we’re not getting paid or anything,” Kain said. “We’re here to have fun and love to play the sport. We have to have fun in order to win.”
South Carroll 102 100 0 — 4 8 2
Century 106 103 x — 11 7 3