For Centennial, it was an easy step toward another regional title for a program accustomed to winning. For visiting Southwestern, it was a chance to see how much work will be required to catch up to the state's best softball schools.
Above all, yesterday's abbreviated 23-0 rout by the eighth-ranked Eagles in a Class 3A, Region III semifinal underscored the differences between the levels of softball played in Baltimore City and its suburbs.
Centennial (17-4), fresh off its fourth county championship under coach Dale Huting, will go after its third regional title in five years tomorrow. The Eagles will play host to Atholton, a 4-2 winner over Southern yesterday, at 1 p.m.
The Eagles, who are trying to win their first state title, won't encounter any other roadblocks as easy as the one they hurdled yesterday.
Pitcher Kim May overmatched Southwestern (7-4), which had not seen a hurler with her kind of velocity this spring. In a game that was shortened to five innings, May was perfect. She struck out 13, and only two Southwestern hitters made contact. Both of those at-bats resulted in groundouts.
Meanwhile, the Eagles' hitters unloaded on Southwestern's soft-throwing pitcher, Quay Galloway. Centennial batted around twice in four innings, collected 17 hits, took advantage of six Southwestern errors and led 20-0 after three innings.
"My girls were, first of all, honored to be here," said Southwestern coach Bernie Leneau, whose team was making its first appearance in the state's regional playoff format.
"This is the first time my girls have seen a pitcher like this. [May] is three or four strides ahead of the best pitcher we saw this year.
"We still have a lot to learn about fast-pitch softball. We're just starting to develop a few girls leagues in the area, and even though we got whipped on today, my girls are already talking about where they want to play this summer. We'll take our lickings, but I think we're going to grow."
Huting said: "Hopefully, women's athletics in the city will improve over the years. The only way they can improve is by joining us."