By GARY STALLARD
It might go down as one of the most convenient recruiting experiences the Angelina College softball coaches will ever have.
For three years, AC coaches Mark and Barbi Mattson have known about Christa “Smiley” Radke, the Lufkin pitcher who caught plenty of eyes with her exploits in the circle. A starter for the varsity since her freshman season, Radke racked up plenty of accolades in her first three years, including a Defensive Player of the Year award in 2017 and two All-District awards.
When the coaches couldn’t see her play in person, they could always pick up the local newspaper to read about Radke’s latest achievements.
There was more than enough familiarity between the parties. The only question was whether Radke would want to stay close to home or take her talents elsewhere.
Radke on Friday ended the suspense, signing her letter of intent to join the Lady Roadrunners in the fall of 2019.
“One thing I love about her is she’s very family-oriented, and that’s what we’re all about with our program,” Mattson said. “She loves this town and the community and the people who have supported her. I really think she wants to give back by showcasing her talents with us.
“She’s a phenomenal pitcher, and we’ve seen what she can do. We can’t wait to see her working with our offense. We’re super-excited to have her here.”
Radke said her up-close-and-personal knowledge of the program and its staff made her decision an easy one.
“They have a great program here, and I felt it was a good move for me to stay here,” Radke said. “The coaches are known for working with the players, and the team is always going far every season.”
Joining a team typically ranked among the nation’s leaders in offense will allow Radke to focus on what she does best: Pitching.
“I know if I’m doing my job pitching, they’re going to do their jobs hitting,” Radke said. “I know I’ll always have people backing me up. I know there will be a big adjustment coming from high school to college, but I know if you can play, you’ll play. You can’t give up.”
Radke is the daughter of Cindy Pope of Lufkin.
The e-mail address for AC’s Sports Information Director is firstname.lastname@example.org.