Skip to main content

Elk Grove Citizen

Cardinals to Adjust Approach for Playoff

May 10, 2024 10:46AM ● By Alejandro Barron

Senior Ariel Burton is about to connect for a base-clearing three RBI triple to put the Cardinals ahead 5-4 at home against league rival the McClatchy Lions on May 3. Photo by Alejandro Barron

ELK GROVE (MPG) - In the bottom of the second inning in the Metro League matchup of the Laguna Creek Cardinals and the McClatchy Lions, one of the Cardinals' top players, senior Ariel Burton, came to the plate down 4-2 with the bases loaded. 
The Cardinals were down thanks to a four spot in the first inning, then going down quietly in the bottom of the first. 
The Cardinals returned to the plate in the bottom of the second, grinding out at-bats with walks and singles. Burton came into this game with a .451 batting average and leading the team with 27 RBIs. 
Cardinals head coach Travis Wardlaw turned to his on-deck hitter to point out the gap that the Lions' defense left right up the middle in centerfield and said how clutch it would be if Burton could hit the ball there.  
Burton connected with a solid line drive to that gap where she ended up on third base with a base clearing and three RBI triple to put her team up 5-4. 
Despite this early comeback, the Cardinals could not maintain the lead. 
The first-place Cardinals, who already clinched the Metro League Championship, fell by a score of 15-5 to league rival the Lions, which included defensive woes, Wardlaw said. 
“There were a lot of opportunities to make plays that weren’t made,” Wardlaw said. “There were balls popping out of their gloves and Little League-type errors that can’t happen.” 
The Cardinals’ starter was junior Jazmine Johnson, who Wardlaw gives credit to because Jazmine found out about her start right before the game due to the team’s normal starter being sick.

The second inning, when the Cardinals took the lead, Wardlaw was happy to see this fight from his team, but he said his team needs more innings like that.  
“That one inning was great; we just need more innings like that, and they did a great job putting the ball in play,” Wardlaw said.  
The big hit that gave the Cardinals the lead was Burton, who Wardlaw praised on how much she cares and the way she plays the game. 
“She is every coach's dream with her being the nicest, sweetest and respectful kid, along with being intense, coachable, a dream to have in the dugout and a great teammate,” Wardlaw said.
Although the Cardinals defeated the Lions earlier in the season by a score of 6-2, Wardlaw said again, the biggest difference was defense, but he gave praise to the Lions’ hitters who put the ball in play and constantly applied pressure. 
With two league games left and the Metro League Championship secured, Wardlaw would like for his team to adjust their approach up at-bat ahead of their playoff run. 
“We have to have an approach in the box and believe in that approach and that would be a major adjustment heading into playoffs and next week with Burbank and Kenned,” he said.
The biggest concern for the Cardinals ahead of playoffs will be defense, Wardlaw said. 
“That’s my biggest concern heading into playoffs is our inability to make simple plays, so we have to address that,” Wardlaw said. “We have to get right. We’ve already won league so it’s not about that; it’s about getting right for playoffs.”