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AUSTIN – Perfection is something that takes the right ingredients.
Hard work. Dedication. Motivation and ultimately buy in is what it takes for a team to piece together a perfect season.
For Lake Creek, their buy-in spanned from a cold Monday in February to a hot Texas summer Saturday afternoon in June. Through 41 games and 291 innings, the Lions roared to outscore their opponents 337-33.
In the end, it was their 19th shutout of the season on that June afternoon at Red & Charline McCombs Field at the University of Texas that solidified their place in history.
Lake Creek defeated Georgetown 7-0 on Saturday to claim its 41st victory of the season and the 2022 Class 5A State Softball Championship.
“I think a perfect season is something no one ever thinks about, no one ever knows if that’s going to come out of whatever you’re putting out there,” junior Ava Brown said. “That in itself is amazing. Being a State Champion, anybody has that ability no matter how many games you win or how many games you lose. You can always become a State Champion if you have the right mindset, and we all did.”
Maddie McKee added: “It means a lot; all these girls love the game so much and seeing it payoff is the best thing you can ever see.”
!!PERFECTION!! @LakeCreek_SB defeats Georgetown 7-0 to claim the 2022 Class 5A State Championship and finish the year a PERFECT 41-0! #UILState @avajbrownn @mmaddiemmckee @KPRC2RandyMc @MaxPreps @kalee_rochinski @coachrochinski @MontgomeryISD @LakeCreekHS @KPRC2 @HTownHSS pic.twitter.com/EEfq8DYkr1— VYPE Houston (@vypehouston) June 4, 2022
Lake Creek finished the year 41-0 overall and claimed the program’s first-ever State Championship in just its third full season of varsity play.
“We practiced 24/7, we worked hard 24/7, we had the drive,” junior Kalee Rochinski said. “We were ready to go.”
The Lions cashed in on early errors by Georgetown in the early innings, pushing across four runs to take a 4-0 lead after the third inning. Shelby Winn singled in a run in the fifth, followed by Brown's two-run double in the seventh to make it 7-0.
Brown was lights out in the circle. The junior allowed no runs on one hit with eight strikeouts and zero walks. Brown finishes the 2022 season with 335 strikeouts and just 12 earned runs allowed in 183 1/3 innings.
“I love Ava Brown,” Rochinski, who caught for her all year, said. “I love catching her. I love her drive. We have that pitcher-catcher connection that is unreal. It feels like sometimes we can read each other’s minds.”
For Kalee and her mother Michelle, who serves as Lake Creek's head coach, Saturday was a special family moment.
In 2012, when Michelle was at Montgomery, she led the Bears to the Class 4A State Championship game. At the time Kalee was just seven years old.
That weekend, the Rochinski's left with a silver medal after falling 9-8 to Spring Branch Smithson Valley. This weekend, it's all gold.
“We did it, we did it,” Michelle said as she got emotional holding back tears. “We’ve dreamed of this. Ten years ago, I was on this field with Montgomery and she was seven years old. I got home and I told her one day this could be her. Ten years later it is her and we have the gold medal.”
Kalee added: “It is very special. Being a seven-year-old and being in the dugout with her when they came here in 2012. Now, being on the field playing for her, it’s amazing. I couldn’t ask for more.”
As Lake Creek celebrated with a strong showing of community support cheering them on, Brown pulled on her medal a few times. The gold medal now draped around her neck was for more than just her.
“This one’s for my team,” Brown said. “I play for my team, and I give my best for them. These girls they mean everything to me. Being able to not only to do this for them but for Montgomery County and all the little girls up in the stands watching us, that’s what it is all about.”
Top 2ndLake Creek's Payton Bauer is hit by a pitch, Caelee Clark scores (Lake Creek 1-0)
Top 3rdLake Creek's Carmen Uribe scores on a wild pitch (Lake Creek 2-0)Lake Creek's Caelee Clark and Madelyn Lopez score on throwing error (Lake Creek 4-0)
Top 5th Lake Creek's Shelby Winn drives in Madelyn Lopez (Lake Creek 5-0)
Top 7th Lake Creek's Ava Brown doubled to right field to drive in two runs. (Lake Creek 7-0)
HOUSTON – In 2021, Lake Creek suffered just two losses in a 38-2 campaign.
They came against Barbers Hill on May 26 and 27. It was the Region III-5A Championship series. One step from advancing to the UIL State Softball Tournament.
The pair of losses – 3-0 in Game 1 and 6-5 in eight innings in Game 2 – stuck with Lake Creek through the entirety of the offseason.
“They’ve had those two games in the back of their head all year long,” Lake Creek coach Michelle Rochinski said. “They knew they could do it.”
It fueled the team motto for the 2022 season of #UnfinishedBusiness.
As Maddie McKee slapped down the tag to complete a game-ending double play to secure a 7-2 Game 2 victory over Santa Fe on Thursday night it moved Lake Creek to 39-0 overall and punched their ticket to the UIL State Tournament.
“It was very motivational to lose last year and come into this round better than we came in last year into Round 5,” McKee said.
Coming into the 2022 season, Lake Creek was the heavy favorite in the City of Houston to make a run like this.
The Lions have collegiate talent up and down the roster led by Florida-commit Ava Brown, LSU-commit McKee, UTSA-commit Kalee Rochinski, Syracuse-commit Madelyn Lopez and Texas Lutheran-signee Caelee Clark.
Sometimes a lot of the attention will shine on Brown, who is now 28-0 in the circle with more than 312 strikeouts on the year. Or on McKee, who leads the team with 47 RBIs followed by Lopez’s 45 and Brown’s 40.
But being 39-0 entering the UIL State Tournament next week comes down to a lot more.
On Thursday, it included a diving catch in left field by Piper White, who then got up and threw it to Lopez at third for an inning-ending double play in the fifth, ending a Santa Fe threat and preserving a 5-2 lead. It was the courtesy runners who come in and make heads up decisions on the basepaths. Finally, it was a perfectly executed back and forth run down to close out the game in the seventh.
This was a team effort.
“This team they play for each other,” Rochinski said. “We’re not a one or two-man show. It’s a full team and it took every single one of us. From everybody on the bench, to the starters to the pinch runners. It took them all.”
Region III-5A Championship - Game 2 (Lake Creek leads series 1-0) @LakeCreek_SB - 5Santa Fe - 2Top 6th Wow!! A huge play by Piper White in LF! Diving catch and throw to third for inning ending DP!! @avajbrownn @kalee_rochinski @LopezMadelynn @KPRC2RandyMc @TXPrepSoftball pic.twitter.com/BrBhT6b8Pv— VYPE Houston (@vypehouston) May 27, 2022
Lake Creek junior Ava Brown added: “Every win we’ve had has been a team win. We’ve all worked so well together. I think just being able to know that we’re playing for each other and moving on with each other feels so much better.”
Despite all the hype around Lake Creek – being No. 2 in the country by MaxPreps and No. 1 in Texas, being the USA TODAY Sports/NFCA High School Super 25 No. 1 team in the country for a ninth-straight week – the Lions have just been playing this one game at a time.
“We try to block it out,” McKee said with a smile. “But it comes at us sometimes. You just have to stop looking at it and keep your head down and just keep winning.”
Rochinski added: “We’ve tried to not pay too much attention to it. They know they’ve had a target on their back all year long. I would say they’ve done a pretty good job of keeping it together.”
“We’re going to the Ship”: @LakeCreek_SB Junior @avajbrownn breaking out the celebratory dance moves as Lake Creek is Austin bound!! @KPRC2RandyMc @mmaddiemmckee @kalee_rochinski @coachrochinski @ClarkCaelee @KPRC2 @LakeCreekHS @TXPrepSoftball @UIL_AD @LopezMadelynn pic.twitter.com/qNYBdohUWa— VYPE Houston (@vypehouston) May 27, 2022
Throughout the playoffs, Rochinski and staff have talked with their team about winning “two games a week”.
Lake Creek did that against Magnolia (11-0, 8-5), Waller (5-3, 7-3), Friendswood (8-0, 10-0) and now Santa Fe (5-0, 7-2) to advance to the UIL State Softball Tournament.
Now, it is two more games – the Class 5A State Semifinal and State Championship – they will need to win next week to complete the perfect season at 41-0 and bring home the program’s first-ever State Championship.
“It’s very exciting, I’m very excited to go there,” McKee said. “I know we’ve got it in us. We’ve been waiting for this for three years.”
Rochinski added: “Our motto all season has been unfinished business and they’ve done it. We’re not done yet.”