In 2017 Brandi Thomsen was the head coach of the North Callaway varsity softball team and her husband, Dr. Bryan Thomsen, was the Superintendent of the school district.

It was during the 2017-18 school year that the Thomsen's announced they would be moving to the Oak Grove School District for 2018-19. That was the background for the other half of the Class 3 varsity softball championship game against Mexico in Springfield at the Killian Sports Complex on Oct. 27, and while Thomsen was in her first year with the Lady Panthers she had nothing but love fo"r her team and respect for the Lady Bulldogs.

"We had an exceptional season, placing first in district and conference. Wew had an exceptional season. It just wasn't our day today," said Thomsen. "(Mexico) has hitters. We knew that coming in. We knew that their lineup was strong, especially in the heart of the order. (Lawson-Holman) is a great pitcher, so we had knoweldge of all that coming into this. Mexico played good ball. They put good hits in play. Blevins had a great hit, and it happens."

One of the reasons the Lady Panthers kept things deadlocked in a scoreless tie for as long as they did is because if their senior-laden roster that runs seven deep and, that day, was headed up by the 11-strikeout performance of pitcher Sadie Loney. Because Thomsen has 17 varsity players in total, it's not as if she won't be able to field a program next year, but, in regards to culture, that's a lot of leaders to lose no matter how you look at it.

"She did a great job. I felt like they were starting to get her timing down, so I made a switch in the sixth. I thought making a change might make a difference, but not neccesarily," Thomsen said. "Hindsight is 20/20. It was a good year, though."

For 2018 Oak Grove went 25-4 overall and is ranked 77th nationally and 14th in Missouri according to maxpreps.com. Last year this team came in at 13-9-1 overall, so Thomsen certainly didn't inherit a reclamation project. But, at the same time, to go from where they were to where they ended up is still quite a feat.

"I came in to a situation where there was a large group of seniors who have played together for a lot of years. Kids who enjoy each other and have been friends for quite some time," said Thomsen. "I just had to tweak some things because they're great ball players. I got real lucky and just rode it out. They're just a great bunch of kids."