Centralia Softball looking for fourth state championship in six seasons
CENTRALIA -- After three straight titles from 2011-13, the Centralia Panthers softball teams looks to have its sights set on a return trip to Springfield and the state championship.
"These kids this year went with us in 2013, they saw it. They were there, two of them played, so I think them seeing that and then wanting to be a part of that success." said Head Coach Jill Angell.
The Panthers program has been one of the best in mid-Missouri since 2010, with a record of 176-20-1. After the 2013 season, Centralia suffered early exits in the 2014-15 tournaments, both to the Fatima Comets.
This season, coach Angell and the Panthers rolled to a 25-1 record, and their sixth straight district championship after beating North Callaway 8-1 in the District championship on Saturday.
"I've got a really solid group of seniors that are leading this team." said Angell. "This group of kids has gelled really well, which sometimes you don't always get that."
Two of those seniors who lead the Panthers this year also were members of the 2013 state championship team: Senior pitcher Madison Preston, and senior catcher Nicole Duncan.
"We've been there, and we know what its like and we know what it takes to get there." said Duncan. "So, I think it's just really important to give that to all the freshman and all the underclassmen that haven't been there yet"
"I just want the girls to not take anything for granted." said Preston. "I just want this to be our best season yet."
The success of the Panthers program has attracted the attention of several SEC softball programs on the recruiting trail. Preston is committed to Alabama, Duncan to Arkansas.
Centralia begins the journey for a Class 2 state championship this Wednesday at Bicentennial Park against Monroe City.