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.
Sports Information Director Gary Stallard, who also serves as a Liberal Arts Instructor, begins his eleventh season with Angelina College. Following a career as a U.S. Marine, Stallard completed his bachelor’s degree at Stephen F. Austin University, where he majored in English and Journalism. For more than 16 years, he has worked as a sports writer/columnist/photographer for the Lufkin Daily News; he continues to contribute free-lance articles on occasion. Stallard has won several awards for writing, including the Golden Hoops Award for basketball writing in 2003, Regional Sports Writer of the Year in 2004, and the Texas Press Association’s first-place award for column writing in 2007 and in 2014. He has also done basketball, football and baseball radio and live streaming play-by- play and color commentary for an ESPN affiliate. Currently Stallard serves as play-by-play broadcaster for AC basketball, baseball and softball games.
Prior to arriving at Angelina College, Stallard taught English at Lufkin High School for four years. He currently teaches Developmental Writing classes at AC. He and his wife Susan live in Lufkin.
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