One of the most highly decorated varsity coaches this area has known in recent history is former Centralia softball coach Jill Angell, so even though she's stepped back from the intensity of days past it's no surprise that one of the local athletes currently competing on the biggest stage played for her.
In fact, the last time the Lady Panthers won the Class 2 title in 2016-17 Madison Preston was a senior at the forefront of that effort from the very start all the way until she led her squad past Blair Oaks 3-2 in eight innings to earn that championships with a record of 31-1 overall according to mshsaa.org. Now this 5-foot-11 star pitcher just wrapped up her sophomore season at the University of Alabama after making seven appearances for a total of 12.1 innings pitched with a 5.53 earned run average.
Highlights from 2019 for the former Lady Panther, who bats from the right, but throws with her left, includes throwing 3.1 innings during a 9-3 win over Niagara on Mar. 14 in which she gave up three earned runs on four hits and three walks with three strikeouts. Preston also lasted two innings in her final appearance on the year on April 3, a 17-1 victory over the University of Alabama-Birmingham that witnessed the hurler allowing one earned run on two hits with one strikeout.
Even though Preston didn't have any decisions during her second season, she did play an important role in helping her team amass a record of 60-10 overall, 18-6 Southeastern Athletic Conference. The squad actually ended the season by winning its initial games of its league tournament in College Station, Texas, over Georgia 2-1 in eight innings on May 9 and 6-3 against Kentucky on May 10. The Lady Tide's tourney run on ESPN2 ended there, though, as they lost on May 11 to Florida, 2-1.
What came next must have felt like a dream come true for Preston because not only did Alabama clock three-straight wins at the National Collegiate Athletic Association Regional in Tuscaloosa May 17-19, but these ladies then laid it on the Lady Longhorns from Texas in the Super Regional May 23-25. Having won two out of three games in the same location, that qualified Alabama for the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City, and despite getting downed 2-1 in the opener against Oklahoma on May 30, Preston and her squad may have been down, but they certainly weren't out. Instead, Alabama found its stride and went on yet another three-game win streak that began with a 15-3 victory in five innings over Florida on ESPN on June 1 that it followed up later that same day by beating Arizona 2-0. When the Lady Tide then slipped past those same Lady Sooners 1-0 in eight innings the next day, June 2, that set up a rematch five hours later that Oklahoma won 7-3, eliminating Preston and crew from this double-elimination event with a whirlwind of emotions left to work out.
As a freshman Preston sported a record of 7-5 with a 3.17 era and two saves according to https://rolltide.com. This included giving up just one hit in five-innings during her collegiate debut on Feb. 9 against Penn State, on Feb. 17 Preston charted a complete-game shutout with six strikeouts and took a no-hitter into the fifth inning in a victory over Mississippi Valley State and on Feb. 23 the hurler allowed one earned run on her way to earning a complete-game victory against Georgia State.