The Lady Wildcats Thursday afternoon took care of business in surprisingly easy fashion with a convincing 11-0 victory over a St. Clair team that two days earlier had won its quarterfinal by a 17-0 count. Coach Cheri Ritz’s bunch had notoriously struggled offensively, edging St, Joseph 2-0 in the quarterfinals, Middleville Thornapple Kellogg 1-0 in the district opener and they were down to their last out before overcoming Zeeland West 4-2 in the regional finals.
Wayland wasted no time at all in taking control of this one, batting around in the first inning and scoring four runs. St. Clair recovered enough to shut down the Lady Wildcats in the next three innings, but that’s went the roof caved in for the Saints.
Senior second sacker Caroline (C.J.) Miller, who blasted a two-run homer in the 2-0 quarterfinal win over St. Joe, led off the top of the fifth with a single up the middle. Senior shortstop Hailey Houck followed with a gap single that enabled Miller to score and then Houck came home on a base hit by freshman Sydney Urben. Another run scored on a wild pitch and then senior third sacker Morgan Winger delivered a run-scoring double. Morgan Teunissen and Abby Merice plated the last two runs of the inning by hitting sacrifice flies.
By the time the smoke had cleared, the ‘Cats had taken an 11-0 advantage and St. Clair was down to its last three outs because of the 10-run mercy rule. The Saints’ task was virtually impossible, scoring two runs against senior all-state hurler Mallory Teunissen, who has allowed only two runs in the entire post-season tournament and finished the regular season with an amazing 0.15 earned run average.
Teunissen struck out nine, yielded two hits and hit a couple of batters, but as usual, was masterful. For example, she opened the bottom of the fourth by walking a batter on four straight pitches, but then came back to strike out the next three hitters.
The triumph lifted the Wildcats’ season record to 33-2 overall and put them in the championship game. Ritz and Wayland took all the marbles in 2006 and they’ve been a familiar participant in the Final Four since.
PHOTOS: Once again for Wayland opponents, it was too much Mallory Teunissen.
Lady Wildcats’ coach Cheri Ritz is seeking her second straight state championship Saturday and she has earned more than 800 victories as a varsity softball coach for Wayland and Middleville Thornapple Kellogg in nearly 25 years.
Members of the Wayland softball team team are shown here celebrating their eighth regional championship. Saturday they hope to be hoisting the state championship trophy. (Photos courtesy Kenny Ritz)