URBANA — At long last, Centennial softball is the owner of a regional championship.
The Chargers picked up their first one since 2002 — and fourth overall — after beating Decatur MacArthur 13-3 in five innings at Saturday’s Class 3A regional.
“I’ve been around Centennial softball for a long time, when my daughter was playing in the mid ’90s,” Chargers coach George Hendricks said. “They’d win 20-25 games almost every year. I don’t remember them winning a regional or being seeded No. 1 in the regional. Those were good teams and very talented teams. It’s nice to get back to that level.”
The Chargers (17-19) did so by utilizing a stellar pitching effort from Danielle Staske along with superb hitting by Bekah Bamert, Kristen Leuck and Katie Janson.
“In the past two or three weeks, the girls have been hitting the ball real well,” Hendricks said. “They’ve been driving the ball to the gaps. We’ve got some kids who are just doing their job.”
Bamert was 3 for 4 with a double and drove in five runs. Leuck went 3 for 3 with two RBI and scored three runs. Janson added a hit, drove in two and scored three runs.
“The nice thing about those girls is that two of them are straight-A students,” Hendricks said. “The other one is an honor roll student. They are what I look for in players and are what I call real student-athletes.”
Staske struck out 11 and walked one while scattering six hits. The Chargers scored four runs in the bottom of the fourth to increase their lead to 8-3 and five more in the fifth to end the game early.
“They took walks when they were given and they got base hits when we needed them,” Hendricks said. “We told them going into the bottom of the fifth, score five runs, the game can be over and you get to go home early.”
Objective completed. Next up: Chatham-Glenwood at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in Mount Zion.
“We have a lot of room for growth still,” Hendricks said. “We need to get better, but we want to compete with anybody we play.”