In Play with Tom Markowski

Wayland wins Division 2 semifinal then mourns death of assistant coach's father

Softball   | Tom Markowski

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East Lansing – The Wayland Union softball community received crushing news following the team’s 11-0 Division 2 semifinal victory over St. Clair at Michigan State University on Thursday.

Bill Merchant, the father of Wayland assistant coach, Nicki (Merchant) Cardosa, died Saturday in what was apparently an automobile accident in the western part of the state.

Cardosa is one of Merchant’s four daughters and all played softball at Wayland and at the Division I level. Merchant was the boys junior varsity basketball coach at Wayland.

Wayland coach Cheri Ritz is Merchant’s sister-in-law and Cardosa is her niece.

“I knew something was up,” Ritz said. “Something wasn’t right. Nicki’s family wasn’t here. Her phone was blowing up in the fourth inning. I told her to leave it.

“It’s hard to go from such a high to this.”

Immediately after the five-inning game, when she learned of her father’s death, Cardosa broke down behind the Wayland dugout as many offered their condolences.

One of Merchant’s daughters, Jessica, was the captain on the 2005 Michigan National Championship team and is currently an assistant coach at Minnesota along with her sister, Macy. Jessica Merchant was named Big Ten Player of the Year.

Wayland (35-2) will play Frankenmuth in the final on Saturday at 10 a.m.

Frankenmuth (37-3-1) defeated Carleton Airport in the other semifinal, 4-0. Frankenmuth scored two unearned runs in the third inning and added two runs in the seventh.

Wayland scored four runs in the first on three hits, a walk and two sacrifices.

“Things just got away from us in that first inning,”