Matt Buettner promised his team would make the playoffs when he was hired as Ryan's coach in June, and the Lady Raiders wasted little time in securing that spot weeks ago.
Friday's win in the regular-season finale simply put a stamp on that comeback season.
Freshman Abby Buettner went 4-for-4 with five RBIs and ace Brianna Leeds struck out seven while allowing four hits and no earned runs in a 12-3 win over Wichita Falls Rider at Tina Minke Field. The win, coupled with a Sherman loss, clinches the No. 2 seed in District 5-5A.
Ryan (19-9, 9-3 district) is in the playoffs for the first time since 2012.
"As far as the guarantee goes, I wanted to set an expectation," said Matt Buettner, who added that it was unclear whom they'd face from District 6-5A in the first round. "The sign on the front of the school says 'Home of Champions.' We wanted these girls to know that [making the playoffs] was not a hope, it was an expectation and it was doable.
"There are limitless opportunities for them."
Leeds only found herself in one jam in the top of the fifth when two runners reached on errors. Rider scored its first run on a passed ball, then Carli Ward followed with a two-run triple. Ward's triple was Rider's first hit.
Even with that rough inning, Ryan had a 9-3 lead thanks largely to a six-run fourth that saw it score all of its runs with two outs. Abby Buettner drove in four of her five runs in the first four innings. Ryan finished the game with 11 hits and tacked on three more runs in the sixth.
Harper Hughes finished with two hits and three RBIs. Leeds had two RBIs.
Leeds gave up two hits to lead off Rider's half of the sixth, then got the next three batters out. With a runner on base and one out in the seventh, she forced a game-ending double play.
"I am proud of my team and how hard everyone has worked all season," Leeds said. "I felt confident, even with the errors, that my team would back me up.
"I'm relieved we made the playoffs. Now we want to go all the way."
STEVE GAMEL can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @NewspaperSteve.
Ryan 12, Wichita Falls Rider 3
|Wichita Falls Rider||000||030||0||--||3||4||1|
WP - Brianna Leeds. LP - Jordan Vinson. 3B - WFR: Carli Ward. 2B - R: Abby Buettner. Records - Wichita Falls Rider 11-17-1, 6-6, Ryan 19-9, 9-3.