Champs are back, Central Cass set to get softball season rolling
Central Cass is entering the 2022 softball season as the defending Class B state champs
What began as a way for Scott Kost to spend time with his four daughters has blossomed into five state softball championships and a true love affair with the sport.
"I have fallen in love with the game," Kost said. "I love the game, I love the kids, I love the competition so that's why I am involved."
Kost will once again be heading up the Central Cass softball program this spring. The Squirrels are coming off its fifth — and third straight — state championship run. Kost's squad defeated Thompson 4-1.
The Squirrels will open up the 2022 campaign on April 12 at Kindred. The game is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m.
Central Cass collected state titles in 2013, 2015, 2018, 2019 and 2021. The Squirrels also appeared in state championship games in 2012, 2014 and 2017. No games were played in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The first sanctioned softball season at the Class B level was in 2012 and along with the rest of the state — Kost's squad has gotten just that much better over the course of the last 10 years.
"It has been fun to watch the sport improve," Kost said. "The pitching has improved, the defense has improved, offensively teams have improved — we're seeing more teams and more kids participating. It's been really fun to watch."
Year No. 11 should be that much more fun to watch.
"We are excited to get the season going," Kost said. "We are the defending state champions and we are excited to go and defend our title. It will be a lot of fun to get the season going and see where we are at."
The Squirrels are returning a majority of its 2021 state championship title team — seven of which started for the Squirrels last season.
All-State honoree Catie Sinner and All-Region team members Rylie Holzer and Tori Richter will also be back with loads of experience. Peyton Nelson and Barbara Prante will be out on the field for year No. 2 with the Squirrels' varsity roster.
Central Cass lost its all-state pitcher, Aubree Lindstrom to graduation last spring, so the Squirrels will have to readjust their pitching rotation for the opening few games of the season. Kost said preliminarily Nelson and Richter will be on the hill
"I think the game starts with pitching and defense," Kost said. "Our pitchers get a lot of extensive work throughout the entire season but it is important that they get that work in early so that we can start developing sharpness and strikeouts and stuff like that."
With the amount of experience Kost is fielding this season, the head coach is at an advantage in that the Squirrels have the opportunity to work on more advanced skills from the beginning of the season.
In addition to having loads of experience in both players and coaches and the tradition behind the program, Central Cass also has a tough schedule ahead of them that Kost said will test and hopefully better the squad heading into the postseason.
Kost said since North Dakota has sanctioned the sport of softball at the Class B level 10 years ago, he has been trying to instill three main purposes each spring: compete for championships, learn life lessons and have fun.
Having so successfully accomplished these three purposes has certainly helped the Squirrels build a name for themselves in the North Dakota softball community — a name that the best of the best want to compete against.
"Right now we're scheduled to play six Class A teams that are going to push, test and challenge us," Kost said. "I am very grateful to the Class A teams that are willing to schedule us."
The Squirrels will be matching up against Minot, Bismarck High, West Fargo and defending Class A state champs, Dickinson across the course of the eight-week season. Central Cass will face the Midgets and Packers on two separate occasions.
"It's going to be a great year," Kost said. "I think we are going to see a lot of really good competition. Our immediate goal is to qualify for a region championship and make sure that we qualify for state. Then, we're going to see how the chips fall."