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GC Softball: Blooming Grove has perfect season, wins district for first time since 2007

Apr. 22—BLOOMING GROVE — Perfect!

Absolutely perfect. Not a game (and Ava Eldridge has had a few of those) but a perfect district season.

That's what the Blooming Grove girls will be talking about in years to come — the 2024 perfect district season. It was a 10 — a perfect 10-0 year in district with a title on top.

That's where Coach Joanna Smith's young ladies are today.

Call them talented. Call them hard-working. Call them determined. But whatever you call them, Call them District Champs — undefeated District Champs!

The Lady Lions wrapped up a perfect 10-0 District 18-3A season with a 15-0 romp over Kemp to become the first softball district champs in the Grove since 2007 when those Lady Lions went unbeaten.

And if that's not enough to make this season special, consider this: Coach Smith and her older sister both played for that 2007 Lady Lion team.

"This team is so deserving," Smith said. "And I couldn't be more proud of them. Going undefeated in district isn't easy. They put in the work. Even with the ups and downs they found a way to work through it and come out strong."

Smith's team has been hit harder with injuries than any team in the Golden Circle. They came oh-so-close to winning the title two years ago and finished second.

They looked like the favorite to win a year ago, but Ava Eldridge suffered a knee injury in basketball and never walked on the 2023 diamond. Smith's teams made the playoffs but they had so much hardship and bad luck just to get there.

This year's Lady Lions team lost two key players (two All-District and All-Golden Circle players) when Lauren Wilcoxen, a power-hitting catcher who was the GC Newcomer of the Year as a freshman, and Janey McGraw, who has been one of the top players in the district, were both lost for the season with injuries.

Still, Blooming Grove stormed back with Ava Eldridge, who was the Golden Circle Newcomer of the Year as a freshman and the Golden Circle Co-Player of the Year two years ago. Ava is back after missing all of the 2023 season.

Ava is the first softball player from the Golden Circle to sign with a Division I program from high school to play at the D-I level.

She returned and led BG as a senior this year along and led the Lady Lions in their 15-0 win over Kemp that nailed down the perfect 10-0 season. Ava pitched a four-inning one hitter and was almost untouchable. She faced 13 batters over four innings, sriking out nine wiyhout allowing a walk. She also went 4-for-4 at the plate with a double, a triiple and three RBIs.

MacKenna Davis went 3-for-4 with a double and drove in two runs, Carli Cunningham went 2-for-3 and drove in three runs. Rileigh O'Dell went 3-for-3 and drove in a run, Laci Johnson went 2-for-2 and scored two runs, and Brooke McGraw, one of the top softball players and overall athletes who leads BG in volleyball, basketball and softball, went 2-for-4 and drove in two runs to help nail down the final victory of the perfect district season.

The Lady Lions are now 21-5 for the season and 10-0 with a crown.