By Michael Selecky

Sports Editor

With a rich tradition that goes above and beyond just wins and losses and annually deals with issues regarding the state title under the direction of head coach Jill Angell, the Centralia varsity softball program understands what it means to be special.

What defined this team in 2017 was its unwillingness to accept defeat. This included late comeback victories at Mexico towards the start of the season and then again mid-year at the Centralia Invitational. That trend appeared to be ready to reveal itself once again come playoff time, but instead North Callaway was able to use the familiarity it gained against the Lady Panthers in the regular season to oust the squad from the playoffs in the district championship contest.

That doesn't mean Angell and this team are hanging their heads, though, which makes sense considering it ended they ear with s record of 20-7 overall, 8-0 Clarence Cannon Conference.

"The end results exceeded my expectations. These kids worked their tails off," said Angell.

One reason this squad did so well this year was Katelyn Rakers had a batting average of .465. Gwedolyn Bostick also hit .390 for Centralia and mowed down opposing batters all season long during her time in the circle.

"Defensively-Courtney Luedloff did a stellar job for us at first base. This was her first year as a varsity starter and she did an excellent job there," Angell said. "Also, Jaymi Freeman, who at shortstop made some absolutely incredible plays throughout the season."

Working against this team, as it does every year around this time, is graduation and the talent the Lady Panthers will lose because of it. This includes Rakers, Jaymi Freeman, Mykaela Gallegos, Emily Greene, Courtney Luedloff and Sadie Owens.

"This is the bulk of our team and will really leave a huge gap. Also, these kids were great leaders," said Angell. "Offseason as a team will start as soon as school is out with camps. We as coaches work really well together in an effort to share athletes. I want the kids to play more than one sport."