By JUSTIN RAINS
Cayuga senior Reann Richards knows winning.
After all, Richards was part of Cayuga volleyball teams that made trips to the state tournaments. So, yeah, Richards knows winning.
Except on the softball field. Until this year.
Cayuga scored eight runs in the fourth inning, sewing up a perfect district record in a 16-6 rout of visiting Cross Roads Friday.
“It’s something like volleyball (now), and it’s never been like that,” Richards said. “We go into every practice knowing that you’re playing for a district championship, instead of just going to make the playoffs.
“It’s a different mindset, and it’s really fun to play with.”
All of it happened on senior night for a group of four players — Molly Griffey, Shelby Luce, Meagan Poland and Richards — who were sophomores when CHS coach Magen Humphreys took the reins of the Cayuga program.
All three years under Humphreys they’ve made the playoffs. But this year, they did even more.
“The girls have worked hard every year,” Humphreys said. “This isn’t just the first year they’ve worked hard, and it’s paid off.”
Things were about as easy as they’ve been throughout the district slate for the Ladycats Friday.
Cayuga already led 8-2 when the bottom of the fourth rolled around. Then, the Ladycat bats really came to life.
Madeline Jeffcoat opened the inning with a double to left-center and, after moving to third on a past ball, scored on a Macie Croft single to left.
Maci Poland then reached on a single, and Richards then ground out to the pitcher, a play that scored Croft and moved Poland to third. Poland would then score on a wild pitch.
Presley Luce followed that with a single to left, moving to second on an error.
After the second out was recorded, things really got going for the Ladycats
Griffey singled to center, and Shelby Luce followed that with her own single, as did Jeffcoat — batting for the second time in the inning
Next up was Meagan Poland, and she didn’t single.
Instead, playing in her final home game, she lifted a double to wall, scoring Griffey, Shelby Luce and Jeffcoat and put Cayuga up 16-2.
Cross Roads made things interesting in the top of the fifth, if only because they almost forced the game to continue after a 10-run rule loss looked inevitable.
But, Cayuga pitcher Kimberly Hughes induced two ground outs to give the Ladycats the 10-run lead, barely.
Maci Poland opened the Cayuga scoring when she led off the first with a single that was misplaced by Cross Roads in the outfield and finished the play on third.
She then scored when Richards reached on an error in the next at-bat.
Cayuga sent all nine batters to the plate in the second, with Meagan Poland reaching on an error, then moving all the way to third on a past ball and then a wild pitch.
Croft then walked and moved to second on a past ball. Both came around to score when Maci Poland singled. Maci Poland then came around to score on a single from Presley Luce.
Luce finished 4-for-4 at the plate, driving in one and scoring twice.
She came around to score when Griffey reached on an error. Griffey then scored on a single from Jeffcoat.
Meagan Poland doubled and scored on a single from Richards in the third, and Richards then scored on a single from Griffey.
Meagan Poland finished the game 3-for-4 with three RBI, while Maci Poland was 3-for-4 with two RBI of her own.
Richards, Griffey and Jeffcoat all finished with two hits each.
By virtue of winning the district title, Cayuga earns a bye in the first round of the upcoming playoffs. They will play the winner of the Fruitvale/Detroit bi-district matchup in the area round.
“Just to win district was kind of our goal. To do it undefeated was great,” Humphreys said. “I think the girls played well and it was good for them to finish without a loss.”