The Wayland softball team will head into the Division 2 district softball tournament Saturday as hot if not hotter than the projected weather.
The Lady Wildcats boosted their overall season record to 29-3 Thursday by sweeping Muskegon Oakridge, rated No. 2 in Division 2 in the last regular season state-wide poll. The locals prevailed 3-1 and 9-6 against a team that had lost only twice this season and won more than 30 times.
Coach Cheri Ritz’s diamond group will play at noon Saturday against Plainwell in the district semifinals at Wayland. Otsego, ranked No. 9 in Division 2 and sporting prolific home run hitter Kendra VanderLugt, will take on Hopkins in the district opener at 10 a.m. The finals will get under way at 2 p.m.
Junior hurler Emma Ludema, who has three no-hitters, two of them perfect games this spring, came up with another sparkling performance on the mound in Thursday’s opener, outdueling the Eagles’ ace, Brooklyn Galden. Ludema yielded only four hits and one walk and struck out 15 batters.
Galden gamely pitched six innings, also allowing four hits, two of them by Ludema. Galden walked one and struck out three.
Despite giving up four runs in a fourth-inning Eagles’ rally, Wayland managed to outlast Oakridge in the nightcap. Both teams collected six hits.
Kennedy Cole drilled a run-scoring triple to open the scoring and the Wildcats plated three more in the fourth. Kami Morse sacrificed one run home and Kaelyn Sikkema drove in another.
Kayla Reed hurled the first four frames and picked up the mound win, giving up six runs and six hits and striking out five. She was relieved by Ludema, who went the last three innings for the save.
Rya VanderKooi added a double. Emma Tornes, Grace Kincaid, Kami Morse, Kaelyn Sikkema and Kayla Reed added singles for the Wildcats.
COVER PHOTO: Emma Tornes has been one of the hottest Lady Wildcat hitters this spring.