Want to go out with a bang your senior year? Try hitting .600. That’s why Thomas Dale High School’s softball utility player Madison Rice... Rice is VN Player of the Year

Want to go out with a bang your senior year? Try hitting .600. That’s why Thomas Dale High School’s softball utility player Madison Rice did. She is the Village News Player of the Year.

The Knights made a run to the state tournament in 2018, Rice’s junior year, and as a senior she helped guide the team to a 15-5 record. The team battled through injuries and adversity this year, and Rice proved to be a most useful player.

“Maddy had to play multiple positions this year,” coach Patrick Sweet said. “She started out at her normal position of shortstop and played third base. We needed her to catch about half our games, and she was able to do that also.”

Playing catcher is perhaps the most physically demanding position. Catchers are also tasked with handling pitching staffs. So for Rice to go from the middle infield to catching and not miss a beat offensively was an impressive accomplishment.

She finished the 2019 campaign with 31 hits, 14 singles, nine doubles, five triples and three home runs. An aggressive hitter, Sweet said that Rice has been able to hit for power to all areas of the field.

“She has grown as a player, but [also] as a leader,” Sweet said. “She led by example this year, as well as vocally.”

With all her talent, Rice is staying local for now and playing college softball at Richard Bland College. Since adding sports, the Statesmen have performed well, even winning a national championship in men’s basketball.

After two years at Richard Bland, which essentially operates as a junior college sports-wise, Rice might be able to play anywhere she wants, and figures to be a strong prospect to continue at the Division I level.