Patriots stage comeback

New players, increased fans help softball team achieve goals

Being the number four seed in Class C with a record of 27-5, the Yutan-Mead Patriots punched their ticket to the state tournament in Hastings for the first time since 2009 and are well on their way to a comeback from last season’s record of 6-21.

 “Our record this year makes me see softball in a different way because last year I was so used to losing all the time that a win was surprising to me,” starting catcher Maycee Hays said. “But now it’s different because I’m surprised if we lose, and I expect us to win every single game we play.”

Assisting with the winning record are four new transfer students from Gretna and one new transfer from Wahoo. Yutan juniors Alexis Polak, Taylor Novak, Kaiti Hansen and Ella Watts, along with Sophia Brennan from Mead, all contribute to the team in many ways.

“They definitely bring us a new culture because last year I feel like we were all just a bunch of girls coming to a field and playing softball,” Hays said.

Having a new winning culture has brought more fans to Hayes Fields.

“There are a lot more people coming to watch our games because they know we’re winning more, and they know we have the opportunity to go somewhere this year,” senior Kendyl Egr said.

The environment coming from the crowd gives the girls the feeling of a “state championship vibe” said starting right fielder Novak.

“There are people lining the fence watching our games. It’s always fun to look out there, see the students standing on their trucks cheering for us, and see that there is literally not a single parking spot available,” starting pitcher Shaylynn Campbell said. “It’s just different, and it’s a good difference.”

Working their way towards the end of the season, with the fans’ help, the team hopes to accomplish their final goal: the state championship.

The Yutan-Mead Patriots pose with their District Championship trophy. The districts were hosted at the Yutan Hayes Fields. (Top row from left to right): Bill Watts, Andi Nelson, Alexis Polak, Taylor Novak, Mike Davis (Middle row from left to right): Addison Jones, Delaney Shields, Kylie King, Alyssa Husing, Kaiti Hansen, Aubrie Pehrson, Hailey Martin, Alexis Pehrson, Savanna Hassler, Rylee Kirchmann, Sophia Brennan, Ron Helmick, Emma Abraham, Maycee Hays (Bottom row from left to right): Brooke Campbell, Riley Hannan, Meghan Richards, Shaylynn Campbell, Laycee Josoff, Ella Watts, Kendyl Egr, Emily Hebenstreit, Ryan Glatter

“To take state as a team, I think that we just need to have energy every single game in the tournament and make every play for your teammates,” starting center fielder Polak said.

Patriots head coach Ryan Glatter agrees with this strategy for achieving their post-season goals.

 “We’re all our best when we’re ourselves,” Glatter said. “Being a star in their role in each game and not being selfish will help them win state. They need to play for each other.”

 If the team can follow their coach’s advice and can maintain their new winning culture, they foresee the end of their season being a success. 

“I think having a good culture and high energy during games are important and we’ll need to bring that in the state tournament,” starting second baseman Watts said. “You can really out beat teams with high energy.”