WAYLAND, Mich. — Two years ago, a young Wayland Wildcats softball team filled with freshmen and sophomores fell short of a district championship.
Now, in the words of legendary head coach Cheri Ritz, those players have matured.
"Our ponies have become horses," Ritz laughed after Saturday's game.
And Saturday's district championship wasn't an easy one. The Wildcats trailed Otsego 6-3 in the middle innings before a late push.
Wayland would score six runs in the bottom of the sixth inning on four Otsego errors but also RBI doubles from junior Kennedy Cole and sophomore Kami Morse.
Junior Emma Ludema would close the door on her complete game efforts with a strikeout to seal the 9-6 victory.
"We joke we're teaching the ponies how to run and hit, they're producing, it's great, it's great to see," Ritz added.
Junior Emma Tornes was another standout of the afternoon.
"We've worked for it the entire season, this has been the goal since game one, this feels amazing to finally make it," and Tornes says Coach Ritz gave them a pep-talk in the dugout when their team trailed.
"I think coach knew we could pull it out, we've come back from worse, she knew it, we knew it too, we came back and proved ourselves," Tornes added.
Cole said the team never had a doubt about coming back to get the win.
"Coach was like, 'this Otsego team is ready to fight, you guys have to fight too,'" she recalled, "us captain know how to stay in it, how to keep the team going, just one hit keeps us going and keep the runs coming in."
Wayland will take on Coldwater on Saturday in regionals at Otsego High School.