White Knoll took advantage of late Cardinal Newman errors to post a 5-0 win over the SCISA Cardinals in the first round of the Wildcat Invitational softball tournament on Friday at Oak Grove Sports Complex.
In other first-round games, Airport handed Blythewood its first loss of the season, 2-0, while Spring Valley and Brookland-Cayce rallied for wins over Lexington and Gilbert, respectively.
White Knoll (4-2) was locked in a 0-0 duel for the Cardinals before finally getting on the board in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kelsey Campbell drew a one-out walk off CN lefty Annalise Hughen, stole second and eventually came home on a two-out Cardinal throwing error. Three more Cardinal Newman boots helped the Timberwolves put it away with a four-run burst in the sixth.
Kaylin White survived a number of jams in the early innings to emerge as the shutout winner in the circle. Her best escape act came in the top of the fifth when the Cardinals loaded the bases, but failed to cash in.
“I think the girls are starting to adjust to my style of play,” said first-year White Knoll coach David Smith. “I play small ball more than they are used to play, but we’re all starting to get a little more comfortable with each other.”
The goal remains the same for the T-Wolves – to win a region championship. WK finished second to North Augusta last season, and has already dropped an 8-6 decision to the Yellow Jackets in the early going.
“Both teams hit the ball very well, but we made some costly errors and that was the difference,” said Smith. “In softball today, pitching and playing consistent defense is the key. If we can make the routine plays, we’ll be fine.”
White, pitcher Savannah Terrapin, shortstop Lydia Trexler, catcher Meagan Helms, center fielder Sabrina McCray and Shilah Thompson are the veteran core players back from last season’s 19-5 team that lost in a district final to Dutch Fork.
Cardinal Newman, 26-10 and third at the SCISA Class 3 state tournament, is still looking to take the next step up.
“We can compete against a top team like White Knoll, but we haven’t bean able to beat one and nit’s frustrating,” said CN coach Doug Frye. “We haven’t learn how to finish and until we do we’re not going to be where I want us to be. Tonight, we had chances to score, but couldn’t deliver the key hit. On defense, we made every play for four inning and fell apart at the end.”
Airport (4-1) bounced back from a 6-5 Region 5-3A loss to archrival Brookland-Cayce on Thursday to stun Class 4A Blythewood behind the pitching of Chyna Riley. The Eagles took advantage of Bengal errors to plate single runs in the fifth and sixth innings. Courtesy runner Kayla Sutton scored in the fifth on a one-out error, and Taylor Payne’s RBI single in the accounted for another unearned run.
“We’re off to a hot start and it was nice to see us come back after a tough one last night against Brookland-Cayce,” said Airport coach Jessica Kerbs. “I fell confident we will do well this season.”
The Eagles figure to be in the 5-3A pennant chance to Chapin, B-C and Midland Valley. Airport has already beaten Chapin and Midland Valley, which made the loss to B-C a bitter one.
Lexington took a 4-2 lead in a two-run single in the fifth by sophomore Megan Floyd, but the host Wildcats could not seal the deal in the final frame. Spring Valley erupted for seventh runs to hand LHS a stunning 9-5 loss.
Brookland-Cayce beat Gilbert 8-7 in eight innings. It was the first loss of the season for the Class 2A Indians and the third win in a row for the Bearcats (4-3) under first-year coach Kurtis Fields.
Gilbert broke the 6-6 tie in the top of the eighth on a successful squeeze bunt by Caitlyn Sheppard that scored Dakota Ulmen. But B-C counted with two runs in the bottom of the frame. Brooke Lucas doubled home Hannah Porter and raced home with the winning run on Kimberly Owens’ single.