WAYLAND, Mich. -- Wayland softball coach Cherri Ritz is already one of the winningest coaches in MHSAA history and on Saturday she picked up career win number 900.
"I didn't get overly excited or anything. It's just another ball game," Ritz said. "It's not about me, it's about the kids."
Ritz's former and current players have so much respect for their head coach.
"She puts in so much time for our program, our school, and our team," freshman Grace Kinkaid said. "She really deserves it."
"I'm not shocked by it," said freshman catcher Kennedy Cole, smiling. "She's so determined to do what she needs to get done."
Now in her 25th season at Wayland, Ritz has led the Wildcats to two state championships, in 2006 and 2015, but it's academics that she's most proud of. "A couple of years ago, we were academic all-state," Ritz noted before even mentioning the state championships.
With all of her success at the prep level, Ritz has had countless opportunities to coach college softball. "The question always came up, 'Why don't you coach the next level?' But I stay at this level because I simply love teaching the fundamentals."
Of course, there's something to be said for coaching at your alma mater, since Ritz is a 1980 graduate of Wayland high school, and she has had much more on the players than just softball.
"I think being an all-around great person is really, really important," she said. "Not only am I saying be kind to your teammate, I'm saying be kind to the custodian, be kind to the special needs child."
Coach Ritz continues to build a successful program both on and off of the softball diamond and has left a tremendous legacy on the hundreds of players that she has coached.
"I'm so thankful [for her]," freshman Emma Ludema said. "She's great. She always pushes me and is always working with me to make me a better player."
"She means so much to me," added Kincaid. "She's believed in me when nobody else has, and she works with us 100 percent, and I'm so glad I have a coach like her to mentor me through the next four years."
Few coaches will ever achieve 900 wins, but for Ritz, it's about the program. "I get a good buy-in from my kids, so that's the best part," Ritz said.