An emotionally charged Thursday was spoiled in the end for Free State High softball senior Catherine Smith.
Celebrating Senior Day, her 18th birthday and signing her letter of intent with Rhode Island wasn't enough to put a smile on Smith's face after she ended her home career with a split doubleheader against Shawnee Mission South.
The senior starting pitcher led the Firebirds to 4-3 victory in Game 1. But in the second game, the Firebirds struggled on both offense and defense en route to a 5-0 loss.
"It would have been even sweeter if we got the sweep," Smith said. "It was a nice day, but still, a win means more to me than anything."
Kayley Lane, Free State's only other senior, put the Firebirds up early in the first game with a two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning.
"I think we both came out knowing we were going to have to step it up as seniors and lead the team," Lane said. "It worked in the first game. I was feeling pretty confident about my swing, and I think she was feeling pretty good about her arm."
Smith clamped down after relinquishing the lead in the third. After giving up two runs, Smith gave up just two singles and struck out six batters the rest of the way.
"I think they challenged themselves and were really wanting to get the win for the seniors," FSHS coach Pam Pine said. "And they at least did that in the first game."
Game 2 starting pitcher Megan Smith didn't get the same offensive support - and didn't get any help behind her defensively. Megan was charged with all five runs scored, but only two were earned. She was replaced by her sister, Catherine, in the bottom of the third.
Free State had four errors in the first inning alone, resulting in two runs. The defense committed three more errors over the next four innings.
"We didn't take care of the ball defensively," Pine said. "But they put the ball in play, and we didn't. Everything we hit, we hit right at them. We just couldn't really get anything going."
The Firebirds had just two hits off Shawnee Mission South freshman pitcher Jessica Elafros.
"I think everyone was really excited and kind of up for the first game," Pine said. "Everybody's energy levels were high. I think it was kind of like you got 100 dollars at the casino, and we spent it all in the first game. We had no money left. I just think we ran out of energy."