Seven Lakes ace Abke dominating postseason
Amy Abke is making these playoffs her own personal playground, opening eyes and dropping jaws while doing so.
The Seven Lakes junior ace and Sam Houston State commit has been unreal through two rounds and five games of the postseason, allowing one earned run on 16 hits while striking out 50 and walking 10 in 36 2/3 innings.
Largely because of Abke, Seven Lakes is in the regional quarterfinals for the first time since 2016. The Spartans (20-10) play George Ranch in a best-of-three series starting Thursday.
Abke has thrown every inning of the Spartans’ playoffs, going 4-1 against a No. 2 seed (Ridge Point) and district champion (Jersey Village).
.@7LSoftball, in the area playoffs for the first time in nine years, shuts out Jersey Village 6-0 in Game 2 to sweep the Falcons and advance to the regional quarters. The Spartans are 20-10. @SpartanCrazies_ @SLHSABC @KatyISDAthletic @TXPrepSoftball @TX6Asoftballpic.twitter.com/zsXDFuz8A6— Dennis Silva II (@Dennis Silva II) 1651950818
“She’s better than what I expected,” Spartans first-year head coach Holly Koopmann said. “She goes into games knowing she’s going to perform and be successful. And most of the time, she is. She is one of the mentally toughest kids I’ve ever coached.”
Abke has thrown 63 percent of her pitches for strikes this postseason. As if her prowess in the circle wasn’t enough, she’s contributed three hits and four RBIs at the plate.
“I feel like it’s all coming together,” Abke said. “I feel like we deserve to be in round three. We’ve worked really hard and we’re a team. Everyone is doing something to contribute even if they’re not on the field.”
Abke was stellar last season, lifting Seven Lakes to the playoffs with clutch performances in a round-robin play-in tournament.
Abke struck out 24, walked three and allowed two hits in shutout wins over Katy Taylor and Mayde Creek to return the Spartans to the playoffs for the first time since that 2016 year when they went to the regional semifinals.
This year, Abke has a 1.11 ERA. In 176 innings, she has allowed 28 earned runs on 94 hits, striking out 311 and walking 34. The signature win of her career so far came March 1 against perennial state power and district rival Katy. Abke handed the Tigers their first district loss since 2014 by striking out 11, allowing two hits and surrendering no runs or walks in a complete-game 2-0 win.
Abke’s durability and endurance are remarkable. Her toughness and resilience are unquestioned.
Though she is averaging 113 pitches per game during the playoffs, Abke seems to only get stronger late in games. That’s by design. She has worked tirelessly to find any and every way to be more efficient and smarter as a pitcher.
“She has learned that facing a team multiple times in a short period, you have to adjust,” said Abke’s father, Justin. “Her control and ability to move the ball across horizontal and vertical planes have drastically improved the last 12 months. Her ability to throw certain pitches at different spins and speeds has also allowed her to keep hitters off balance.”
During the offseason, Abke focused on spin, location and working more of her pitches off-speed. Those were all things she said she struggled with last year.
In training with a pitching coach, she learned different pitches. Not only how to throw them, but when and where, and why.
“Stuff like having the same pitch, but working it in and out,” Abke said. “It’s seemed to work for me. They’re pitches that not a lot of people throw, so I can catch people off guard.”
More than anything, however, Abke is most proud of her leadership. She embraces keeping her teammates hyped during games, keeping their spirits up.
Abke understands they look up to her. She relishes that responsibility. It’s debatable whether she affects the team more with her play on the field or her presence in the dugout and locker room.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever coached a kid like her,” Koopmann said. “She works harder than anybody. She is a great leader. Always ready to serve. I couldn’t ask for more from her.”