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WIAA state softball photo: Sun Prairie junior pitcher Maddie Gardner

Sun Prairie junior Maddie Gardner pitches in the bottom of the second inning in Thursday's WIAA Division 1 state softball quarterfinal against Waukesha North. Gardner, a Wisconsin recruit, worked all 10 innings of the defending state champions' 4-1 victory, allowing seven hits and striking out 16.

Sun Prairie senior pitcher Maddie Gardner announced on Twitter that she has orally committed to South Florida for women’s softball.

Gardner had orally committed to the University of Wisconsin during her sophomore school year.

Gardner tweeted: “I’m proud to announce that I will be continuing my academic and softball career at the University of South Florida. Thank you to all who helped me get to where I am today!” 

Gardner, contacted by the State Journal, wrote in a text that she decided to open her recruitment last winter to see if there were other opportunities for her. UW had done strong recruiting to add incoming pitching, while South Florida was seeking pitching, wrote Gardner, who toured the campus. 

"I thought it was beautiful," she texted. 

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Benefits included warmer weather and more home games, which she believes also will help academically because she won't miss classes.

She also is eager to play for coach Ken Eriksen, who also coaches USA softball, and assistant Jessica Moore, who played at the University of Oregon and for USA softball. 

As a junior, Gardner helped lead the Cardinals to a state runner-up spot in WIAA Division 1. She was named along with Oshkosh North’s Sydney Supple as the Division 1 players of the year by the Wisconsin Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association.

First-team all-state Large Schools selections from the area last spring included Gardner, Cammi Riemer, DeForest; Kylee Lukes, Jefferson; Grace Radlund, Sun Prairie; Molly McChesney, Verona; and Meghan Anderson, Verona.

Gardner helped lead Sun Prairie to the Division 1 state title and an undefeated season in 2018 and to the Division 1 state tournament in 2017.

Bucky!

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Jon Masson covers high school sports for the Wisconsin State Journal. He has covered a variety of sports — including the Green Bay Packers and Wisconsin men's and women's basketball and volleyball — since he first came to the State Journal in 1999.