KATY—All along this season, Lake Creek’s softball players knew what they had to do.
Last year’s regional finals loss to Barbers Hill left a bitter taste. The Lions said they had unfinished business this year. They said they had to take it one game at a time.
So, perhaps the biggest difference in this year’s Lions and last year’s is that they are doing what they say they intend to do. They spoke it into existence. And it’s because of turning words into actions that Lake Creek is laser-focused and set that this year’s regional finals trip will turn out more pleasantly.
Lake Creek took care of business Thursday evening, finishing off Friendswood, 10-0 in six innings, to sweep the regional semis at Tompkins High School. The Lions are 37-0, ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 2 in the nation.
.@LakeCreek_SB wins 10-0 in six. Back to the regional final for the second straight year. State\u2019s #1 team and nation\u2019s #2 is 37-0. @LakeCreekHS @TexHSSoftball @TXPrepSoftballpic.twitter.com/M1uQIBnp1w— Dennis Silva II (@Dennis Silva II) 1653010613
But they were undefeated, too, when they went into last year’s fifth round. The feeling, though, is this is not that team.
“It’s very exciting,” said junior ace Ava Brown, who went 4-for-6 with four RBIs in the series, threw a complete-game shutout in Game 1 and followed with a scoreless three innings of relief in Game 2. “Obviously our goal is always one game at a time. But we know where we ended last year isn’t where we want to end it this year.
“We know what happened last year. We were a little complacent, undefeated, and this year it’s not about going to round five. It’s about playing the next game.”
Lake Creek was dominant against a tough Friendswood (30-9) team, outscoring the Mustangs 18-0. The Lions hit .451 and struck out just four times in 51 at-bats. They held the Mustangs to 10 total hits in the two games, and almost as many strikeouts (six).
“We had a game plan against Friendswood, and we executed both games,” coach Michelle Rochinski said. “They were phenomenal picking up on the defensive situations, baserunning. They executed both games perfect.”
.@LakeCreek_SB junior @avajbrownn discusses the Lions\u2019 regional semifinal sweep of Friendswood following tonight\u2019s 10-0 win and advancing to the 5A regional finals for the second straight year. Brown went 4-6 with four RBIs in the series. @LakeCreekHS @TXPrepSoftballpic.twitter.com/jDWNQyuAjS— VYPE Houston (@VYPE Houston) 1653013790
The Lions are ridiculously talented. That much is certain with four NCAA Division I commits. But what they’ve proven is they are as rich in depth as they are in sheer ability.
Brown, junior Maddie McKee (4-for-7, RBI) and senior Madelyn Lopez (2-for-5, four RBIs) were the usual prolific producers in the series. But others have emerged, such as sophomore Carmen Uribe (5-for-6, two RBIs), junior Madison Johnson (no runs on four hits in three innings in a Game 2 start) and junior Payton Bauer (two RBIs).
“I see them picking each other up,” Rochinski said. “We’re not relying on one or two people. It’s a full team effort. Everybody is going to have an off day or an off series. We talk about being perfect, but we know in the real world we’re not going to be perfect. It’s knowing the next person is going to pick us up. That’s one thing I love about this team. They’re there for each other, battling for each other.”
Bauer has been one of those consistent battlers at the bottom of the order. She entered the series hitting .354 with a .400 on-base percentage and 11 walks to five strikeouts.
“Do my job,” Bauer said. “If there’s runners on base, get them in. If not, get it started. Do what I’ve got to do.”
Peyton Bauer 2-run single gets them started. @LakeCreek_SB strikes first. @LakeCreekHSpic.twitter.com/tXrqHyLzEp— Dennis Silva II (@Dennis Silva II) 1653004547
Rochinski said when the team lost to Barbers Hill last season, there was a feeling that they weren’t done. There was a thought that perhaps it just wasn’t their time.
But after the way the Lions dominated this series, and with the know-how and experience lingering from last season, they are ready to punch the clock. Minds on state, but eyes on Santa Fe at a time and place to be determined next week.
“We have so much drive this year to just finish what we started last year,” Bauer said. “We’re not going to let anything get in our way. We know what we have to do. We know what has to be done. From the first inning, we have to be prepared and locked in. Focused. We have to attack and get the job done.”
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