Field of Dreams
May 9, 2012By Morgan Creel of Centralia High School Activities
Waiting around all day nearly killed us. We were all so nervous and anxious. Thinking about what could happen and the endless possibilities drove us crazy. When we finally got there, though, we were ready to go. We were wearing black tops with a silver “Lady Panthers” across the chest, along with black pants and socks. We were ready for this State Championship game. We seniors had prepared for four years for this moment. Our dads probably wanted this as much as we did. Being seniors, we had high expectations for this game--in the end, we fulfilled them.
While we fulfilled the town’s expectations, the volunteers who worked on the field fulfilled ours. Our brand new softball field south of town is quite a beauty. With brand new sod and soft brown dirt, all the “bad hops” had been smoothed out and the holes in the outfield had been filled. The sod was watered almost every day to ensure by the regular season the grass was as green and healthy as could be. A yellow fence crown lined the top of the outfield fence. Our dugouts were big enough for four of us to stand side by side, which was a great change compared to the old ones. The light gray brick walls, along with two openings and a iron Panther paw and a “C” on the end of the dugout created a pretty spiffy-looking dugout. Not only were our looks good, so were our skills.
As we began our final state championship game, we faced Chillicothe. Chillicothe was a very solid team. They had a great pitcher and some good hitters, but they could not compete against us. With our nine starters on the field and a pinch hitter, we outplayed them 2-0. The crowd, covered in black and white, cheered louder than the speakers that were blasting the song “”Dynamite.” In the Killian Sports complex, not only did the Centralia crowd take the home seats, they also filled part of the visitors’ seats. The sun was just about to set, but yet, still in that annoying stage where it was in everyone’s eyes. It was warm with a slight breeze; it felt like a summer night. At about 5 in the evening, our game started. We had the field first, so we all grabbed our sweaty, worn gloves, yelled our chant that started with “rip ‘em up, tear ‘em up,” and then all ran out in unison. Our first basemen rolled us grounders while we tried to get a hold of our nerves. The dirt was a soft, powdery, light brown, type of dirt. It was easy to run on it and even easier to slide into home, which we did twice, winning the game.
This game was a huge accomplishment in Centralia softball history. However, we have played many other games on our brand new field. This field was a field of community pride. It was built only from people in the community who volunteered their precious time. “I really enjoyed working on the field knowing my kids, as well as other kids, can get a good use out of it in the community,” stated Brad Creel. It was put to good use, too! We extended the community pride by winning every one of our games, except one, on that white-lined field. Our batting was on fire throughout the whole line-up because in practice Coach Angell had stressed that “It takes 30 days of repetition for your muscles to do the correct motion.” So that is what we did every day at practice—bat. Our bats ranged from 28 inches long to 34 inches long and 28 ounces to 33 ounces. Obviously, the power hitters swung the heavier of the bats and the scrappy hitters hit with the lighter ones. The bats were not the only skill that was on fire. Our fielding was also pretty darn good. With Coach Angell hitting so many ground balls at us that her palms got blisters, we got good at not letting any grounder go through. With our knees bent, glove tips in the dirt, the ball would fly at us while we shuffled our feet to get to it. Throwing the ball to our first basemen, who was a freshman and could block any type of ball-- whether it be short, hard, soft, or high-- we threw at her, the crowd cheered when we got the out and we ran off the field to go hit.
We have most of our memories back in the dugout. A tradition was stealing each others' ranch sunflower seeds or drinking someone else’s grape Gatorade—even though her name was on the top. The cringing sound of someone’s metal cleats grinding against the grainy concrete also drove people crazy. One person with those cleats was Baylee Douglass, our sophomore varsity pitcher. The first summer game she had ever played with us was a hot summer day. It smelled of freshly cut grass and new dirt. She dove into the white second base, breaking and dislocating her finger. Needless to say, she was out for the rest of the summer, which was a bummer. “I was really scared and thought I wasn’t gonna be able to play for the regular season. And it really hurt!” Good for us though, she was back by the first regular season game.
Senior night was a bittersweet moment for us three seniors. Through the tears, we walked out onto the first base baseline facing the crowd. Looking past us, the crowd saw our senior numbers, which had been carefully put in place with Styrofoam cups in the outfield fence. While Coach Angell hugged us, a few more tears ran down our faces because we knew this season was coming to an end. We exchanged flowers with the Boonville seniors at home plate, and then the game was off. By a large margin, we won that game.
This 2011 softball team has made a huge impact on this town. By being good role models as well as good athletes, we have accomplished a huge task. Many people are very proud of us for our accomplishments this season, and they don’t mind telling us how proud they are. To this day I still have people coming up to me saying, “That state championship game is the best game you’ve ever played.” It still makes me feel good knowing that people still remember and acknowledge the hard work that has been put into this season--not only our hard work, but the men and women who put in the time to build our new fields and dugouts. The new dugouts and field inspired us to be a better team because we were starting fresh. We have already made a million new memories on that field, and that tradition is ensured to continue over the future years of softball.