EAST LANSING \u2013 Not many softball observers expected the Evart Wildcats to be playing for a Division 3 state championship on Saturday at Michigan State University. And outside of Evart fans, not many expected the Wildcats to take the No. 1-ranked Millington Cardinals down to the wire. But that\u2019s what happened before Evart\u2019s season ended on Saturday at 32-9 with the 3-2 loss to the Cardinals in eight innings. It was the Wildcats\u2019 first appearance in a softball state championship game. And perhaps it won\u2019t be the last. \u201cWe\u2019re second place out of all the Division 3 teams in the state,\u201d Evart coach Amanda Brown said. \u201cThat\u2019s a big deal. \u201cI think we did surprise people. It wasn\u2019t until we talked about it in practice that we had lost last year in nine innings in the regionals and would want to come back next year. They did it and they should be very proud of themselves.\u201d Not that it\u2019s going to be easy, Brown acknowledged. \u201cNo one is going to hand you anything and you have to work for it every single game,\u201d she said. \u201cIt\u2019s not like we won\u2019t be on the radar. People will know who we are for sure.\u201d Evart was 14-0 Highland Conference champs, district and regional champs and state runners-up. The Wildcats only graduate two players from the team although both were pivotal starters with center fielder Skylar Baumgardner and first-baseman Veronica Lofquist. \u201cI\u2019ll remember their hard work,\u201d Brown said. \u201cSkylar was our center fielder who made some great catches the last two days. She threw a lot of runners out at bases and did a great job. We had Veronica for three years and she did just a great job. She\u2019s a hard-working kid. They\u2019re both going to be missed, that\u2019s for sure.\u201d Senior pitcher and top hitter Addy Gray will be among the key returnees. \u201cNo expected us to win (Saturday) and we gave them a game and only lost by one,\u201d Gray said, adding she felt she did as well as she could in the pitcher\u2019s circle. A three-sport athlete, Gray will have a busy summer getting ready for her senior year. \u201cI\u2019ll have travel softball and travel basketball,\u201d said Gray, who also plays volleyball.