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Cardinals’ softball had successful season

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These players received special recognition at the Chadron High softball team’s year-ending dinner last week. In front, from left, are Sarah LeBere, Ember Diers and Aubrey Milburn. In the back are Kinley Richardson, Maci Rutledge, Josie Downing and Cali Hendrickson.

With all 14 players contributing one way or another, in the words of their coach, the Chadron High School softball team had a successful season this fall. The Cardinals finished with a 17-13 record and advanced to a district playoff.

It was the team’s first winning season in five years and a solid .304 team batting average. Although both were major contributors and will be missed, with only two seniors on the roster, the Red Birds are expected to be strong again next year.

“This was our best season in five years,” Coach Jodi Hendrickson said. “The girls are dedicated to the game and are getting better all the time. Every player contributes to the success in their own way. We have good players in all four of our classes.”

Hendrickson added that the players willingly work on their weaknesses, and therefore are building mental toughness as well as improving their physical techniques.

During a banquet last week, seven players received certificates for special achievements.

Sophomore Sarah LeBere was the team’s leading hitter with a team-high 36 hits in 79 at bats for a .456 average. She also led the way in doubles with eight.

One of the seniors, Ember Diers, also hit extra well. She had 29 hits in 65 at bats for a .445 average, was the runs batted in leader with 36 and paced the team with three home runs, or what the team likes to call “dingers.”

LeBere and Diers had the Cardinals’ top slugging percentages of .684 and .662, respectively.

Junior Kinley Richardson also had an outstanding season. She had 31 hits in 84 at bats for a .369 batting average, scored the most runs with 35, used her speed to collect a team-high five triples and tied for most stolen bases with freshman Cali Hendrickson with 17.

Hendrickson also was second in runs scored with 31. None of the other Cardinals swiped more than seven bases.

One of the rarest awards went to Josie Downing, the other besides Diers. She was recognized for having 50 at bats and never striking out. At .280, Downing’s batting average was not spectacular, but the fact that she walked 12 times while never fanning gave her a .455 on base percentage.

Junior Aubrey Milburn was recognized as the team’s “defensive dive master,” for her efforts to catch any ball hit her way and not being afraid to get her uniform dirty.

Milburn also hit .373, had seven doubles, only one fewer than LeBere, and drew a team-high 15 walks. Stats reveal that she spent a lot of time in the batter’s box because she stuck out 17 times. However, she still had a .500 on base percentage.

Junior Maci Rutledge was the team’s primary pitcher, twirling 100 of the 145 innings. Although she gave up 180 hits, she struck out 74 batters and walked only 20. Rutledge also hit .333, giving the team five regulars with batting averages well above .300.

Coach Hendrickson notes that the Cardinals have several athletic, promising young players on the roster who didn’t see a lot of action in varsity games. Softball is not conducive to much substituting, but their performances in junior varsity contests was impressive and makes the team’s future appear bright.

2022 Chadron High Softball Hitting Statistics

Player; ; AB; R; H; 2b; 3b; RBI; W; S0; OB%; SLG; BA

Sarah LeBere; 79; 29; 36; 8; 2; 23; 7; 7; .500; .684; .456

Brooklyn Hoffman; 11; 16; 5; 2; 0; 7; 5; 1; .647; .636; .455

Ember Diers; 65; 11; 29; 3; 1; 36; 5; 6; .479; .662; .446

Aubrey Milburn; 67; 25; 7; 1; 1; 16; 15; 17; .500; .552; .373

Kinley Richardson; 84; 35; 31; 4; 5; 25; 7; 14; .418; .607; .369

Jaelyn Brown; 11; 5; 4; 1; 1; 3; 5; 2; .563; .636; .364

Maci Rutledge; 75; 26; 25; 5; 3; 15; 10; 15; .419; .480; .333

Josie Downing; 50; 25; 14; 2; 0; 7; 12; 0; .455; .320; .280

Josslyn Pourier; 50; 16; 14; 5; 0; 9; 6; 13; .379; .380; .280

Cali Hendrickson; 78; 31; 21; 1; 0; 13; 9; 20; .352; .282; .269

Meredith Rhembrandt; 57; 6; 15; 0; 0; 18; 3; 18; .306; .368; .263

Jodean Chesley; 36; 10; 7; 1; 0; 2; 8; 8; .362; .222; .194

Averielle Sager; 31; 11; 6; 1; 0; 6; 5; 3; .306; .226; .194

Jacey Turman; 12; 10; 2; 1; 0; 3; 6; 1; .444; .250; .167

Chloe Wright; 8; 7; 1; 0; 0; 2; 7; 2; .563; .125; .125

Note: Diers hit 3 home runs, LeBere, Rhembrandt and Richardson, all 2, and Milburn 1

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