One day Sydnee Rushing will probably give up a run in a postseason game. But it hasn’t happened yet.
The Goreville sophomore blanked yet another team, this time it was Elverado, in the title game of the Class 1A sectional.
That brought Rushing’s remarkable postseason shutout streak to 11 consecutive games.
“It’s kind of crazy when you think about it, but I don’t think much about it when I’m out there pitching,” Rushing said. “I’m just out there trying to do my job.”
The streak may end Monday when Goreville takes on a tough Altamont squad in the Johnston City Class 1A super-sectional. That would be okay with Rushing as long as Goreville wins the game and advances to the state finals in East Peoria.
The Blackcats (16-14) are still unbeaten against Class 1A teams this season. All of the losses came against 2A and 3A competition. One of Rushing’s best performances of the year came in a season-opening 1-0 loss to Du Quoin. The sophomore allowed just three hits and no earned runs while striking out 10.
“They are much bigger schools, and we decided to challenge ourselves a lot this year,” Rushing said. “We’ve played most of the best 2A schools pretty close, and I couldn’t be happier about it. It only helps us once we drop back down to 1A teams in the postseason.”
It’s been a frustrating season at times for the Blackcats, who entered regional play with a record two games below .500.
“We still knew as a 1A team we could go pretty far,” Rushing said. “Plus we’ve had a target on our back all season because we won state last year. There has been a lot of pressure, but I think we’ve done a good job handling it.”
Rushing wasn’t considered a strikeout pitcher as a freshman. But she’s been mowing down the competition this year and averages nearly 12 strikeouts per game. She needs just 14 strikeouts to reach 300 for the season.
“I haven’t really done anything different, and I don’t know if I’m getting stronger or what it is,” Rushing said. “Everything seems to be falling our way a little bit, and it’s just been great.”
Part of what makes Rushing a terrific pitcher is her demeanor on the mound. Nothing seems to faze her, even if it’s a huge game where most people would show some nerves.
“People always say that nothing seems to shake me,” Rushing said. “I know we have a big game coming up, but I guess I’m just not the nervous type.”
Goreville’s head coach, Shanna Massey, is nervous before all the crucial postseason games. But there is some comfort there knowing who will take the mound for her team.
“I don’t know if we’ll ever see something like this again,” Massey said of Rushing’s scoreless streak. “Honestly, I’m surprised it has lasted this long. I don’t even think she realizes how phenomenal this streak is. We’re just thrilled to have her on our team.”