"They’re still growing but they are very talented and the young ones watch and listen to the older players and the coaches," Haack said. "So they’ve been able to pick things up pretty quick.”
Katy has a young but confident group.
The Tigers have dominated opponents since the start of district play and have continued to grow and get better as the season has progressed.
That progression has continued into the playoffs, where while the team has shown growing pains, they have also put together strong games to beat their opponents.
“They’re really young but it’s encouraging what we’ve seen,” said Katy head coach Kalum Haack. “There’s been sometimes here in the playoffs so far where I’ve been like, alright, we’ve got this down, we know what we’re doing. And then they do something that makes you go ‘what the heck are we doing?’ But that’s to be expected, they’re still growing but they are very talented and the young ones watch and listen to the older players and the coaches. So they’ve been able to pick things up pretty quick.”
That growth showed on Saturday in the area round, as Katy swept Cy-Fair 10-0 and 11-1, run ruling the Bobcats in both games to advance to the regional quarterfinals.
“This was a big boost for us,” said Ashtyn Reichardt, a sophomore outfielder. “It gives us a lot of confidence to have this level of success against a good team, but at the same time we have to focus on the next step and focus on round three We can’t take anyone lightly. We know we have to play just as good and not ever play down to our competition.”
Katy came out in strong fashion from the get go in game two of the series. Erynne opened the scoring with an RBI double in the bottom of the first before Reichardt doubled to drive in another and Montgomery Henderson then hit a triple to drive in another run. Cameryn Harrison followed that up with a double and Hailey Gore did the same as both drove in runs before Lauren Soeken hit a sacrifice grounder to make things 6-0 and cap off the inning.
That was all the help that Soeken would need on the mound, as she threw four scoreless innings and allowed just three hits while striking out earn to earn the win.
“I just came into today with the goal of locating my pitches and getting first pitch strikes and it worked pretty well,” Soeken said. “I just wanted to come out and execute for my team.”
The Tigers offense went into a lull until the fourth inning, when they added two more runs on Reichardt RBI single and a bases loaded hit by pitch by Paige Schulze. Cy-Fair scored one run in the top of the sixth, but Katy immediately shut down any thoughts of a comeback in the bottom of the inning. Two runners reached base and Harrison drove one run in on a double, Gore then hit a sacrifice grounder and Peyton Watson followed that with an RBI single to close out the run rule win for the Tigers.
“We’ve really emphasized being patient at the plate,” Reichardt said. “It’s something we struggled with early in the season, but we’ve been working on it so much that now everyone is able to make adjustments and find the pitches they like. When we do that we have a very dangerous lineup.”
Katy advances to play Cinco Ranch in the regional quarterfinals, and for one Katy coach, the matchup rings close to home, especially come playoff time.
Katy assistant coach Meghan Burrell was a junior at Cinco Ranch when the Cougars swept the Tigers in 2007 in district play en route to a district title for the Cougars.
But when the teams met again in the Region III Final, it was Katy that came out winners, two games to one to advance to the state tournament.
After Saturday’s game, the team huddled up and Burrell told the young Tigers team about that experience and implored them to not underestimate a surging Cinco Ranch team in the third round.
“We have to realize that even though we beat Cinco twice, they are playing really good ball right now,” Haack said. “They have some really good hitters and really good pitchers and we cannot afford to take them lightly. You have to play them just like you would the No. 1 team in the state, because they are going to bring their absolute best.”
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