LEROY — Pine River’s softball team enjoyed the presence of standouts like Chelsea, Christy and Miranda Nelson, Danielle Nixon and Tiffany Waldfogel in a lineup that produced the program’s fourth straight Division 3 championship earlier this month.

But younger players including Cayman Gatt, Jandney Mattson and Brooke Sebastiano have also been delivering some key key hits for the Bucks who nearly came close to another regional title before losing 5-4 to Manistee in Saturday’s title game at Lakeview.

Gatt is a sophomore who also played varsity last season.

“I’ve improved a lot hitting wise,” she said. “I’ve improved quite a bit. We had a lot of drills, like mind memory drills.”

Gatt was catcher last season but this spring has been playing shortstop.

“I liked it, it was OK,” Gatt said of the change. “When you play shortstop, you have to keep your head down and stuff and be ready to field it.

“I’ve stopped a lot of (groundballs). But you can’t get them all.”

Mattson, a sophomore is in her second year and said she’s improved with her hitting.

Last Saturday, in Pine River’s 11-1 district semifinal win over Manton. Sebastiano was 3-for-3 while Mattson had two hits and Gatt added a double. Pine River scored seven of its runs with two outs.

“Brooke had a single with the bases loaded that started a huge inning for us,” said Pine River coach Laura Mumby.

Sebastiano, a junior also had a hit and two RBIs against Manton.

It’s Sebastiano’s first varsity season. She said her hitting has normally been good and admits it took her awhile to get used to varsity pitching.

“The pitching took me a couple of weeks,” she said. “You see trickier pitches.”

As a leftfielder, “I have a good glove,” said Sebastiano, who wants to work on her throwing.

The Bucks collected 22 runs in two district games.

“You have to get your pitch,” Mattson said, indicating more patience by Pine River batters has keyed a stronger PR hitting attack.

Mattson has played a lot of right field but has also seen action at second base.

Pine River enters the regionals at 30-10.

“It’s been a successful season,” Gatt said. “We started off with people in different things. We’ve got it now.”

The district win over Manton, a dangerous team, was especially pivotal, Mattson said.