Centralia Captures First Conference Title

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CENTRALIA -- In sports, there is a first for everything. For the Centralia baseball team May 3rd marked the day they captured their first Clarence Cannon Conference title. The Centralia Panthers baseball team has been a program under Head Coach Jason Lea for 18 years, "It is a big step for our program there's a lot of people that have put a lot of hard work and effort into this program. This being our first title we are obviously very excited about it," said Coach Lea.

May 3rd, the Panthers faced Louisiana. The team looked to sophomore pitcher Zach Etzler to step up. As for Etzler, well, he rose to the occasion, "Fastball and curveball were going good that day. It was a tight game and I got pretty nervous the last couple of innings but we played some good defense and shut them out," said Etzler.

Teammate Just Eikel hit a 2-run single in the fourth, and Etzler did the rest. Etzler allowed just 2 hits in the Panthers 2-0 shut out victory. With South Shelby's loss to Palmyra the Panthers stood alone, on top of the CCC with a 6-1-conference record.

Yet it wasn't the first time Centralia looked to younger players this season. The Panthers have just 2 seniors and 7 sophomores on their starting line-up. With such a young squad the veterans are forced to be leaders, "Me and the other senior Stuart Cox have tried to step up and do the best we can but all these sophomores out here have played baseball their whole lives, so we don't have to say much to them," said senior shortstop Alec Ford.

Centralia begins their run at the District Tournament title Saturday, May 12th. The Panthers will take on Moberly at 12:30 PM.