Centennial hasn’t been a team to shy away from big games. In fact, the Cougars tend to play even better when they’re facing top competition, according to coach Rick Thomas.
The Cougars proved that on Monday in a 5-0 win over Forest Lake, which is ranked No. 6 in Class 4A in the coaches’ poll from May 20. But Centennial didn’t have much time to celebrate, as it was right back on the field Tuesday for a Northwest Suburban Conference deciding matchup against No. 2-4A Elk River.
The key to the game? Let the players play their game.
“They have the experience, they have the confidence in themselves and as a coaching staff, we just can’t screw it up,” Thomas joked. “We got to let them do their thing… They’re so good that they’re going to produce their runs, they’re going to shut it down defensively.”
Tuesday’s Northwest Suburban Conference-deciding matchup between Elk River and Centennial was a pitchers’ duel, at least for four innings.
Tied 0-0 in the fifth inning, Helene Krage cracked a single that broke the scoreless drought, bringing Ella Fidler and Maddy Ringen home. The Cougars added one more run in that inning off an Emma Hopkins single that brought Alexa Just in to score. Those were all the runs Centennial needed.
The Cougars beat Elk River 3-0 at Centennial High School to secure themselves the Northwest Suburban Conference title.
Krage finished with a pair of singles and two RBIs. She also kept the Elks, ranked No. 2 in Class 4A in the coaches’ poll from May 20, off the board from the circle. Krage pitched a complete game and finished with eight strikeouts. The No. 3-4A Cougars needed a strong performance from the circle as they faced off against Elk River ace Annie Volkers.
Volkers pitched all six innings for the Elks (15-2, 12-1) and tossed six strikeouts. She kept the Cougars (18-1, 13-0) off the board through four innings and in the sixth, but Centennial took advantage in the fifth.
The MN Softball Hub polls are for entertainment purposes only.