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story.lead_photo.caption Genoa Central's Raegan Keith pitches against Rose Bud Monday May 20, 2019 during the Class 3A State Softball Championship at Bogle Park at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Rose Bud won 7-3. Photo by NWA Democrat-Gazette / J.T. WAMPLER

GENOA, Ark. — Genoa Central's softball program finished last season as the state runner-up, but groundwork has been laid for the Lady Dragon's future.

The Dragons were 3-3 when the Arkansas Activities Association paused play.

"We had a lot of good things happen my first year at Genoa Central," Genoa Central head softball coach Richard McMillan said. "It was able to lay the foundation for it all. It was a lot of the same girls from last year's team that were seniors were on that team. We actually got beat in the first round by the champion that year in a 3-2 ballgame. When you go back and look through the bracket, no one came as close to them as we did. I feel like that year set the foundation and these girls took it to the next level.

The Dragons relied on underclassmen this season, after losing key players to graduation.

"Well, whenever you graduate six seniors, you have a lot of shoes to fill," McMillan said. "We only had two seniors on the team this year, so we were really young but we have some talent. We were really looking forward to watching them grow through the year. The young girls came in and kept the team chemistry going. A lot of them play basketball and that was something I was concerned about. They came in late but they worked hard.

"We really gelled together. You mix that with some talent, then you'll have something. You've had success, so there's confidence and there's big shoes to fill. You want to live up to what the program has been the past two years. We were headed in the right direction."

In three years, McMillan has taken a athletic program predominantly known for track and basketball, to now being known on the softball diamond.

"Genoa is a tradition rich place," McMillan said. "They've consistently been successful in track and basketball. I just think I've been fortunate with some talented young ladies. We've got enough girls that don't participate in track and basketball, that are in our offseason program to see results. That gives us some stability there, so we're not trying play catch-up at the beginning of the year.

"We all work together pretty well sharing our athletes here at Genoa Central. It's not about track, basketball or softball, it's about those girls that play those multiple sports. What we can do as coaches to get them to compete at the highest level and as long as we keep that in mind as coaches, everyone has a opportunity to be successful."

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