When Jill Angell stepped away from the Centralia varsity softball program to spend time with family, anyone who's seen the Facebook posts that have followed knows how real and heartfelt that experience has become for her.
There have also been good times in retirement for the former Lady Panthers leader, though, such as when she was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame along side former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Rick Ankiel. Not to mention the fact she left her replacement, Kendra Murphy, a set of winning traditions and mindsets with the Lady Panthers that have only been known by those who have dabbled in excellence in one way or another. But, there is one caveat to that final adendum.
That's because the 2018-19 Centralia varsity softball team has a limited number of returning players. In fact, it's a very limited number of returning players from a season ago.
"Gwendolyn Bostic is the only returning starter from last year. She will pitch and play third base and shortstop for us," Murphy said. "We are a very young team this year. Even though we have a lot of Juniors they have played behind two large groups of Seniors and have not got to log very many varsity innings."
Among those juniors on this seasons roster will be pitcher/second baseman Olivia Hombs, third/first baseman Mary Kate Bennett and outfielder Lynsie Curtis, who just got back from competing at an out-of-state track and field event. Catcher Mallory Smith will be looking to make her mark on the diamond this season, as well, as will second baseman Anna Romine and shortstop Scarlett Fox.
"We will be focusing on the little things this year and trying to win those (example: errors, HBP, walks, SB, Strikeouts)," said Murphy. "If we can win the little things and focus on our game then we hope to see the scoreboard reflect the outcomes that we want."
The Lady Panthers also have several sophomores at their disposal who have the potential to become more valuable as the season progresses, especially if injuries become a factor for this team, such as first baseman Abbie Ross. Add to that the skill sets of outfielders Carter Hawkins and Kalin Finlay and untility player Ella Holiman and already this lineup is incredibly well rounded and it hasn't even played a game yet.
"I'm looking to take a young Centralia team and help these girls gain confidence in themselves and with each other," Murphy said. "I think that is our biggest obstacle this year is getting the girls to reach their potential."
In 2017-18 Centralia had a record of 20-7 overall. Even though Murphy comes from a larger school and lost in the district title game to Mexico last season, she chose to take on the challenge of following a legend, which has to be commended considering just how successful Angell actually was.
"From what I can tell (the Lady Panthers) were 7-0 last year in (the Clarence Cannon) conference. Honestly I don't know what my overall record is. I'm coming to Centralia from Hannibal," said Murphy. "I have been at Hannibal the past five seasons. We won three games my first year there and we won 15 last season. Each year we improved."
Murphy's husband Blayne was just hired to teach and resurrect the baseball program at the Missouri Military Academy starting this school year.
CENTRALIA VARSITY SOFTBALL VARSITY SCHEDULE 2018
8-27 vs Macon
8-28 at Blair Oaks
9-4 vs Highland
9-6 at Father Tolton
9-11 vs Mexico
9-13 at Brookfield
9-14 to 9-15 Capital City Classic
9-17 Monroe City
9-21 to 9-22 Jennies Tournament
9-24 at South Shelby
9-27 at Clark County
9-29 Centralia Invitational
10-1 at Battle
10-2 vs Hallsville
10-4 vs Palmyra
10-6 at Hickman
CHESTER BOORE MIDDLE SCHOOL SOFTBALL SCHEDULE
DATE OPPONENT TIME
9-4 Intrasquad Scrimmage 5:00 p.m.
9-8 CBMS Tournament 8:00 a.m.
9-10 vs Southern Boone 5:00 p.m.
9-11 at Bowling Green 5:00 p.m.
9-13 at Brookfield 5:00 p.m.
9-17 at Hallsville 5:00 p.m.
9-20 vs Macon 5:00 p.m.
9-22 Macon Tournament (7th) 10:00 a.m.
9-24 vs South Callaway 5:00 p.m.
9-25 vs North Callaway 5:00 p.m.
9-27 vs South Shelby 5:00 p.m.
9-29 CCC Tournament 8:00 a.m.
10-2 Moberly (8th) 5:00 p.m.