CENTERBURG — The Centerburg Trojans are back.
After a one-year hiatus, Centerburg High School will field a girls softball team.
“There’s a lot of excitement,” said new Centerburg coach Don Starcher. “(Saturday) the varsity (had) their first scrimmage against Marion Harding and the jayvee (had) their first scrimmage at Marion Harding.”
Centerburg Athletic Director Jim Stoyle brought in Starcher, who was a jayvee coach at Northridge, when it was clear that the interest for softball existed at Centerburg.
“(Stoyle) had a meeting with parents and players and 17 girls showed up for that meeting,” said Starcher. “He agreed to get a varsity coach and he got a varsity schedule together. When I got hired, he laid everything out on the line. After I got the job, we had a meeting at the school and there were 24 girls at that meeting so we got seven more from October to November.”
For the Trojans, it’s a new start, but these girls aren’t starting from scratch.
“They didn’t get to play softball at the school, but a lot of these girls played softball,” said Starcher. “It wasn’t a school-sponsored team, but they played rec league and travel ball, so it wasn’t like there wasn’t any softball played at Centerburg last year.”
In fact, there’s plenty of room for everybody and they are young.
“I have 31 girls and 19 are freshmen,” said Starcher. “I have five juniors, seven sophomores and no seniors and that is not a bad thing. The future is very bright in Centerburg for softball.”
They may not be ready for the likes of Danville and Utica quite yet, but they promise to be competitive.
“I have six basketball players,” said Starcher. “Everybody’s working extremely hard. I have two girls that have played a lot of travel ball and I have girls that have never played softball before but are willing to put in the work and the effort to learn the game and they seem to be enjoying themselves. I have 14 athletes, who can play the game of softball — each has their own niche. I probably have eight on the jayvee, who can play the game so I’m looking at 22 girls that really know the game. The attitude has been fantastic. The support from the community has just been unreal. I’ve coached for 20 years and this has been a dream.”
The girls are ready to get the season going, including the sole returning letter winner, junior Lauren O’Rourke, who was a freshman on the last Trojans softball team. She’ll be one of three juniors on the varsity.
“They want to prove a point,” said Starcher. “We talked all along that the MBC is a very competitive league — especially in softball. There are teams in the league that are going to think that we didn’t play last year so how good can we be? My girls want to prove that we belong with those teams. Do I think we’ll beat them? I think we’ll be very competitive and, at this point, I’ll take competitive because the winning will come.”
The mild weather has been a blessing.
“I’ve had open gym since December 1st and I’ve averaged 17 to 21 at my open gyms,” said Starcher. “These girls have worked extremely hard. We finally got outside Wednesday and we practiced Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. They were excited to get out of the gym.”
These Trojans will finally get to write their own story.
“I told them that we are starting at zero — there’s nothing,” said Starcher. “What ever we do, we set the precedent for. I’m hoping, by the first week in May, that (the MBC) knows who we are.”