Center Line High softball hoping for another strong campaign

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Warren Weekly | Published April 14, 2017

 Center Line High senior catcher Skyelar Dodd makes a throw during an April 10 practice. The Panthers have won four Division 2 district titles since 2012. The program had no postseason championships prior to the current run.

Center Line High senior catcher Skyelar Dodd makes a throw during an April 10 practice. The Panthers have won four Division 2 district titles since 2012. The program had no postseason championships prior to the current run.

Photo by Sean Work

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CENTER LINE — Over the last handful of years, the Center Line High softball team is having a run of success that has not been seen before by the program.

And coach Ron Thomas and his players hope the streak continues.

The Panthers, 2-0 at press time, have won Division 2 district championships in four of the last five seasons, with 2014 being the only exception. Center Line — which went 21-9 last season — won the program’s lone regional title in 2015.

So what’s the reason behind the program’s success?

“A lot of it just comes from hard work,” said Thomas, who is in his 17th year leading the program. “They’re all great kids. I push them, but they love it. They buy into what you’re (teaching them). When they see results, everything starts to fall into place. The players know what the goal is.”

Senior catcher Skyelar Dodd is in her fourth year with the team. She said it’s imperative that the Panthers add another banner to their collection.

“That’s all I want. My freshman year, I didn’t play much, so I didn’t really understand it, plus we didn’t win a district title that year,” Dodd said. “Now that I know how it feels to win and win big, I want to make sure we keep doing it.”

If the run does continue, Dodd said it will be a bit more special, as the team has just 10 players on its roster.

Thomas said it’s key to keep the girls fresh as the season goes along.

“They all know they’ll be playing every day,” Thomas said. “Preparation won’t be as intense as it’s been in the past. We can’t burn them out. We can’t have sore arms.”

Thomas said his team is strong at the plate and defensively. He noted that the pitching is solid, with the defense able to pick up for whoever is in the circle.

Leading the charge, along with Dodd, are senior center fielder Cassidy Squire and senior second baseman Brooklyn Harris.

“They’re the leaders, but all of the girls are great. They all know they have to contribute,” the coach said.

Thomas is looking for good competition in the Macomb Area Conference Silver Division. The league has been realigned, and the MAC Silver this season features six teams instead of the nine it had last season.

“Everybody in our league is equal. That should make for some good games,” Thomas said.

Dodd would love a division championship, but she and her teammates focus on postseason titles.

“Banners — any kind — are the goal,” Dodd said. “We talk about it every practice. We just have to make sure we’re prepared to play every day. We’re excited about the year. We’ve been working really hard. It should be a lot of fun.”

Center Line’s next game is against Clinton Township Clintondale at 4:30 p.m. April 20 at home.

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