Big first inning powers No. 17 Century past Carver Center A&T for first state softball semifinal berth since 2008; Zabik strikes out 10

Century, with Hannah Zabik, is headed to the Class 2A state softball semifinals. The senior struck out 10 batters, had two hits and scored as the 17th-ranked Knights defeated No. 12 Carver Center A&T in a state quarterfinal in sultry Towson.

by Demetrius Dillard

Most of Century High’s softball roster was in preschool the last time the program reached the state semifinals.

On the hottest day of the year Saturday, the drought ended for the 17th-ranked Knights.

The Carroll County squad advanced to the Class 2A final four with an 8-3 victory over No. 12 Carver Center A&T in Towson. Hannah Zabik struck out 10 for the Knights, who got two hits each from Emma Zuckerman and Caylee Clark, as well as a combined five RBI.

The Sykesville school got the upper hand with five runs in its opening at-bat, helping secure its first trip to Bachman Park in Glen Burnie since 2008. The Knights (16-6 overall) will play No. 6 Rising Sun Tuesday at 4 p.m., with the winner advancing to the championship finale Saturday at the University of Maryland.

“I’m beyond excited. This team has worked very hard this year to get to this point, so we’re ready to go,” Century coach Kim Perdue. “We’re not done yet.”

Maddy Sitarek went 2-for-5 and tallied three runs for the Knights, who ceased control immediately the first as Zuckerman blasted an inside-the-park home run, plating Ally Loschen and Zabik. Clark took Carver Center starter Lily Dennis deep for another inside-the-park homer.

It was more than enough for Zabik, who allowed three runs on four hits Saturday. She fanned five straight batters between the first and third inning.

“My defense behind me really helps me mentally, so I knew if I couldn’t do it with the strikeouts they could make the plays,” said Zabik, who will play for Averett University (Va.) next spring.

Zabik helped her cause with two hits, scoring on Clark’s RBI single to center in the second. In the fourth, Riley Schulze’s bases loaded walk brought in Sitarek, extending Century’s advantage to 7-0.

Carver Center A&T (15-3), playing in its first state quarterfinal, got all its offense in the home fourth. Madlayn Golt’s RBI double scored Emily Hamp, and Robyn Palmer scored Cooper with a RBI groundout. Golt later scored to trim Carver’s deficit to 7-3.

Zabik settled back in, allowing two hits over the final three innings.

“Any time you have Hannah Zabik on the mound, you’re giving yourself a really good shot to win. Not only does she have control in the circle, but she’s always going to contribute for her team at the plate,” said Perdue.

Dennis, a freshman, pitched for the Wildcats Saturday in place of Mallory Cooper. Cooper, a junior and the Wildcats’ top hitter, did not play because of an ankle injury.

Carver Center A&T coach Kevin Klimko took responsibility Century’s big opening stanza.

“We made some pitch call mistakes in the first inning as coaches,” he said.

With a young roster, the Wildcats have a lot to build on. The Towson school won its first softball region championship, and reached the Baltimore County final for the first time.

“My team gave me all the heart in the world today,” said Klimko. “This was our first time here… it took us a little while to get adjusted, but I think next year, we’re going to be a force to be reckoned with.”

In 2008, Century lost to Southern Maryland’s McDonough in the 2A semifinals, the last of three straight semifinal trips.

The Knights hope to make some new memories Tuesday.

“I’m excited. I’m ready to go to the next round and I’m excited for us and that we have a [bright] future,” said Zabik.

Class 2A state quarterfinal

No. 17 Century 8, No. 12 Carver Center A&T 3

Century 510 110 0 – 8 12 3

Carver 000 300 0 – 3 4 2

Zabik and Zuckerman; Cooper and Golt

HR: Century – Zuckerman, Clark

2B: Century – Zuckerman; Carver – Golt