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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.”
The Dallas-Fort Worth area is rich with athletes who excel at their sport. As baseball and softball playoffs heat up, there are still some schools who have multiple teams that continue to inch closer and closer to state. One of those schools is Aledo as the Bearcats prepare to take on Abilene Wylie in the Regional Semifinals and the Lady Bearcats prepare to go up against Lubbock Monterey in the Regional Finals. VYPE DFW takes a deeper look at both teams' seasons so far and lays out what fans can expect in this week's round of playoffs for Aledo.
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The Aledo Lady Bearcats ended their season in a heartbreaking fashion last year with a 4-1 playoffs loss against Barbers Hill. Coming into this season, the team regrouped and entered the preseason with a bang taking down opponent after opponent. Then, in district play, the Lady Bearcats continued their dominance with victories over Fort Worth Brewer, Wichita Falls Rider, Granbury, Azle, and more to finish district play with an undefeated district record.
In playoffs, the Lady Bearcats have shut down the attacks of Denton Ryan (14-3, 12-1), Mansfield Legacy (12-1, 13-1), Colleyville Heritage (4-1, 10-0), and Abilene Wylie (14-2, 7-3). The Lady Bearcats have outscored their opponents in playoffs by a combined 86-12.
Headed into the Regional finals on a 22 game win streak, the Lady Bearcats are more than prepared to take on Lubbock Monterey. Led by Macy Graf, Marissa Powell, Texas Ray, and others- the Lady Bearcats offense has been phenomenal not only at getting on base, but stealing and scoring as well. Fans can expect the team to play strategic offense in order to help the defense play without worrying.
Game one of the series is set to begin at 3 p.m. on Thursday, May 26th at Abilene Christian University with game two being set for 10 a.m on Friday at the same venue. If a game three is necessary, it will be played immediately following game two.
The Bearcats played a tough season last year, but ultimately fell. After a focused off-season, with a goal of being at the top this season, the Bearcats pushed into preseason play ready to never go down without a fight. This season, Aledo has posted incredible wins over Southlake Carroll, Lubbock Cooper, Weatherford, South Grand Prairie, Mansfield Lake Ridge, and more. After successful district play, Aledo entered playoffs with a vengeance.
So far in playoffs, Aledo has ended he seasons of Denton (6-2, 9-4), Burleson (6-4), and Burleson Centennial (4-0, 3-0). On a seven game win streak, the team looks to continue to advance in playoffs as they prepare to take on Abilene Wylie in the Regional Semifinals. Fans can expect Aledo to play with the same amount of force that they have been all season. With the ability to read other offenses and adjust wherever needed, Aledo's defense can be expected to step up and pave a path to the next round.
Game one of the series is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 26th at Weatherford College. Game two will be played at 1 p.m on Friday at Abilene Christian. If game three is necessary, the team will play at Iowa Park on Saturday at 5 p.m.