Groff sisters
Rylinn (left) and Maddia Groff (Courtesy photo)

Twins and now state champs, Groff sisters ‘have never played a game without each other’


It was Championship Friday, and Rylinn Groff had just connected for a game-tying two-run homer in the seventh inning against top-ranked Gretna.

The Omaha Marian senior’s excitement level was through the roof. Her teammates filtered out of the dugout screaming in joy. One of those teammates was Rylinn’s best friend and twin sister Maddia, who from the on-deck circle, had the best view to the biggest homer of her sibling’s life.

“I think she just said good job,” said Rylinn, trying to recall memories from a fog of euphoria. “I just told her, ‘You got this.”

Rylinn was right. Maddia was hit by a pitch and scored on a wild sequence a few moments later to lift Omaha Marian to a 4-3 walk-off championship victory on Oct. 7 at Hastings’ Bill Smith Softball Complex.

A memory they won’t soon forget

It was a satisfying finish for a Crusader team dealt heartbreak a year earlier in the district round. And it was a fitting end for the Groff sisters, both producing big moments in the final inning of their high school careers.

A life full of many softball memories – the girls began playing the sport when they were 3 or 4 – now includes winning a state championship together.

It exceeded anything imaginable, Maddia said.

“I couldn’t have been happier that Rylinn’s the one who tied it up, that it was the bottom of the seventh, that we were going into the tournament probably not favored over Gretna,” said Maddia, who pitched 543 career innings at Marian and had an impressive 1.77 ERA over that stretch. “The whole thing was just perfect.”

A year ago, Omaha Marian didn’t make it to Hastings following a pair of losses in districts. The wild card went to Gretna instead after the Dragons also were upset. That left an ultra-talented Marian squad at home.

Maddia said she tried to disconnect from softball at the time and didn’t follow the state tourney too closely.

“It was tough,” she said. “Definitely a lot of motivation over the offseason.”

The Groff sisters were especially motivated. It didn’t take long after last year’s abrupt finish for the twins to hit some bullpen sessions and start working toward 2022.

A 1-2 punch at the top

The Groffs knew how to set the tone on and off the field. Rylinn always insisted that the sisters go hit. If the weather was nice, they made their way to a cage near the family’s home. If the weather was cool, they got their cuts in at a facility. Maddia, already equipped with a filthy rise ball, continued to hone her change-up.

On the field, they hit 1-2 in the batting order. Maddia was the Crusaders’ workhorse pitcher for a fourth season, and Rylinn – a three-year starter – caught every game this year.

A 12-strikeout performance against Gretna in the final pushed Maddia, the Metro Conference player of the year, past 1,000 career Ks. She batted .518 with 14 doubles, 32 RBIs and 36 runs scored for the season, while Rylinn hit .495 with team bests in runs scored (39) and doubles (17). The catcher also stole 18 bases.

Maddia Groff

Omaha Marian pitcher Maddia Groff ( photo / Tony Chapman)

Tied together by softball

When it comes to softball, the Groff sisters have been at each other’s side since the first day they touched a ball.

“We have never played a game without each other,” Rylinn says.

The intend to keep it that way, too. Determined to play together after high school, Maddia and Rylinn each committed to Division I Southern Illinois a year ago.

“We really wanted to stick together,” Maddia said. “I think it would have been strange and weird and probably kind of sad if we were split apart. It worked out pretty well.”

Maddia said she pretty much thought of the state title win for 48 hours straight following the final play to seal the school’s second state softball title. Reflection time will continue – the big games, the big wins, donning Crusader black and blue with teammates she’ll never forget.

As Maddia will tell you, the best teammate is the one sharing the same jersey, name and birthday.

“I think having her be my catcher, having her be the lead-off and me next, it felt special, and we were even more as a team than usual,” Maddia said. “It felt really special to play with her and be super close with her again.”

Volleyball Coaches Poll: 10.24.22

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