Amid the celebration of Milledgeville's Class 1A state championship in softball last spring was some planning for this year.
On the bus ride home from East Peoria, junior third baseman Morgan Adolph asked manager Brad Grenoble if she'd be the Missiles' main pitcher this season. Grenoble confirmed she would.
"I kind of figured that was going to happen, since I had to take on a little bit more of the pitching last year," Adolph said. "It makes me sad that I've got to give up third base, but I've got to do what I've got to do to help the team."
Emily Bush, a 3-year starter in the circle for the Missiles, was sidelined with various injuries for about a month last season, and in her stead, Adolph took over. Her experience was limited.
As a freshman, she pitched one JV game. She didn't pitch at all as a sophomore.
When pressed into duty last season, however, she delivered a 9-2 record, with a 1.26 earned run average. She struck out 91 batters and walked 33 in 77 2/3 innings.
"She's 63, 64 miles an hour, with a nasty changeup," Grenoble said. "That's a nice backup pitcher to have."
With Bush now a freshman competing at Heartland Community College in Normal, the pitching duties are all Adolph's. She pitched all summer for her AAU team, the CPC Fire, made up of players from Chadwick and Pearl City, to get ready for her senior season at Milledgeville.
She'll miss the action at third base, but is also embracing life in the circle.
"Third base has always been my favorite place to play, but I think it's going to be just as much fun to pitch this year," Adolph said. "I've enjoyed it a lot more than I have in the past."
In addition to a fastball that is the baseball equivalent to a pitch in the mid-to-upper 80s, she possesses a sharp-breaking changeup, and is working on a drop ball that was recently taught to her by assistant coach Drew Bush.
"It's coming along," Adolph said. "It'll get there, hopefully."
In addition to possessing good stuff, the 5-foot-7 Adolph brings a bulldog mentality to the position, and Grenoble is eager to see her compete.
"She'll bring it, and she's scary on the mound," Grenoble said. "She's built like an athlete. She wants to win, and she won't let people crowd the plate. She'll put it inside. She's going to have a fun year, I think."
Adolph is just one of five key players back from last year's 28-3 team, along with catcher Courtney Swalve, first baseman Kayleigh Leddy, second baseman Taylor Grenoble and shortstop Allyson Bush. They all produced between 25 and 42 runs batted in last season.
Emily Kleckler will have first crack at Adolph's old job at third base, and a new outfield will have to be pieced together, but the Missiles are expected to be among the top teams in the area once again this season. They've come home with hardware from the past two state tournaments, having finished third in 2012, and another deep run seems to be in order.
"It just means we've got to keep it together and play as a team," Adolph said. "If we play as a team and stick together, I think we should do pretty good."
FYI: Third baseman on 2013 state champions. ... Batted .573 (59-for-103) with 5 HR, 3 3B, 17 2B and 42 RBIs. ... Also went 9-2 with 1.26 ERA as a pitcher, and will be team's top hurler this season