It was quite a successful year on the diamond at Center Line High School, as the Panthers’ baseball and softball teams each captured a district championship.
Aside from both programs laying claim to a district title in the same season, it is also noteworthy that the primary pitcher for each team was a sophomore.
Kyle Lugar started the season as a reliever, but when baseball coach Rob Conti saw the potential in his underclassman, he moved him into a starting role. Conti believes that Lugar finished the season at 8-3, to go along with approximately 94 strikeouts, 34 of which came in the last three regular-season games, in 21 innings of work.
Conti said he was impressed with the kind of poise he saw from an underclassman.
“It’s like having another coach on the field,” he said. “He knows exactly what’s going on in every situation. That’s a tribute to him playing a lot of high- level travel ball. It’s a pleasure coaching him; he’s a good kid. I’ve only had one other player in my tenure as a high school coach that was that good as a sophomore (John Bourdeau at Bishop Gallagher). College would be the next step, and that’s kind of the track he’s on at this point.”
Lugar wasn’t exactly alone in helping Center Line win a district championship.
“We had a real team effort,” Conti said. “We had (a) number of guys that seemed like take turns leading us throughout the year.”
Softball coach Ron Thomas was also impressed with what he saw from his sophomore pitcher, Kayla Wilson. He believes Wilson went 20-11 on the season with approximately 250 strikeouts, 22 of which came in the district tournament.
Thomas believes a strong support system has helped to account for Wilson’s success.
“She’s got a solid foundation at home, and it carries over to her playing,” he said. “In fact, all our parents are very supportive. She’s a great student (and) extremely coachable. She’s got five pitches, and she uses every one of them. That’s why her success rate is so high right now. I think she’s going to get better. You haven’t heard the last of this young lady. She stands out because she’s a pitcher, but all the girls on this team get a lot of credit because everybody did a job, and that’s why we got where we got.”