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Elizabeth’s outstanding play took the Cardinals to the quarterfinals at the Oct. 20 state Class 4A softball tournament, where a loss to Mullen ended the team’s bid for a state title.
“We wanted the season to continue, but that didn’t happen. But that’s OK because we are a heck of a softball team,” Cardinals coach Steve Briddle said after the quarterfinal game. “All season we have had unbelievable leadership and a team made up primarily of young players that continued our development of a strong softball program at Elizabeth.”
The Cardinals finished the season with an 18-6 record, which included going undefeated and winning all six league games. Elizabeth made it to state for the first time last year and lost in the first round. This year they won the first-round game by defeating No. 2 seeded Golden 13-6 before losing in the quarterfinals to Mullen.
Elizabeth’s bat power coupled with solid pitching by Maddie Biddle and good defensive play behind her proved to the winning combination against Golden. Elizabeth built an early 4-0 lead and the Demons came back to tie the score in the bottom of the third inning. The 4-4 tie was broken in the top of the fifth inning when the Cardinals put together doubles by Sarah Geislinger, Madi Biller and Mayson Briddle and a single by Bailey Blanchard to score four runs and go ahead 8-4. Elizabeth went on to win the game 13-6.
After a 30-minute break the Cardinals took the field against Mullen in the quarterfinals. Hits proved hard to come by. Elizabeth’s only run was a solo homer by Chloe Wasielewski. It was the second time she hit the ball over the fence but only one went up on the scoreboard as her homer against Golden was nullified by a seldom-called rule that she was out because teammates touched her before she touched home plate.
Biddle said the Elizabeth softball program has grown stronger each season for the last six years and he expects that trend to continue.
“Each season our team gets better,” he said. “Last year, we made it to state for the first time and this year we advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time. Looking ahead this is basically a young team with only two seniors on the roster. Both Maddie Biddle, who was our No. 1 pitcher, and Rachael Rucker, who was outstanding at shortstop and a leading hitter for us, will be missed. But we have a solid program and I expect we will be back here at state next year.”
Rucker played varsity for four seasons and said she really likes to play softball.
“It has really been great this season. This is such a great team and we are like a very close family,” she said. “I wish we were still in the tournament but that didn’t happen and I will miss all my teammates. It has been great being part of the Elizabeth softball teams.”
She said her focus now shifts to her other sport, basketball.
“I love softball but my favorite sport is basketball,” she said. “I like basketball because it is non-stop action while is softball sometimes you stand around and don’t get a ball hit to you for a couple innings. I play small forward and now I want to start getting ready for basketball season that starts in a few weeks.”
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