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“I’m really proud”: Illini Bluffs softball stays positive despite state championship defeat

Updated: Jun 1

Illini Bluffs softball
Illini Bluffs' Cora Ellison (left) and Shelby Stokes (right) embrace after the Tigers' loss in Saturday's Class 1A State Championship game. Jonathan Michel/Clutch Sports Media

With five consecutive Class 1A State Finals appearances and two state championships since 2021, small-school softball in Illinois has been dominated by Illini Bluffs for the last few years. With many of the Tigers’ starters set to return next year, there’s no indication that that trend will stop anytime soon either. 

An overcast, drizzly Saturday just happened to be the day where state newcomer Ridgewood broke through the clouds to take down Goliath in a 3-1 victory over Illini Bluffs in the Class 1A State Title game.

The Tigers’ loss stung, being that it was just their second defeat of the season and the second year in a row that they finished as state runner-ups. However, they battled hard in a game where one run was the difference nearly all the way through.

“I'm really proud of our program for [making five straight trips to the state title game] even though it didn't turn out the way we did today,” Illini Bluffs sophomore outfielder Sara Finn said. “We can't be mad at second place in the state.”

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