High School Softball

Tigers get homer-happy in dominant area sweep of Heights

By Dennis Silva II, Sports Editor
Posted 5/7/21

Katy High’s softball team dug the long ball early and often in sweeping Houston Heights in demonstrative fashion in their Class 6A area playoff series Friday at Katy High.

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High School Softball

Tigers get homer-happy in dominant area sweep of Heights

Posted

Katy High’s softball team dug the long ball early and often in sweeping Houston Heights in demonstrative fashion in their Class 6A area playoff series Friday at Katy High.

The Tigers drilled 10 home runs in 10 innings of play in their two games against the Bulldogs, with six home runs in a 10-0, run-rule Game 1 win followed by four more homers in a 19-3, run-rule Game 2 win.

In his 25 years of coaching softball at Katy, Kalum Haack said he’s never seen a power-hitting display like what he saw against Heights, a 15-10 team that finished second in District 18-6A.

“That was a pleasant surprise and shock,” Haack said. “Hopefully we can continue to hit the ball that well. We have the capability to hit home runs, but to group them all together like that kind of came out of nowhere. I’m glad to see it. Those kinds of things help build confidence.”

Katy (20-3-2) advances to play Fort Bend Travis (16-3) in next week’s regional quarterfinals. The Tigers got there with 13 home runs in their last three playoff games.

“It’s good to see that our mental game is there,” said junior catcher Kailey Wyckoff, who had three home runs in the series and four in the playoffs. “We still have to get better with the small (ball) game, but if the home runs come, they come. We’ve been seeing the ball really well.”

One of Wyckoff’s homers was a two-run, inside-the-park hit to deep right field with one out in the first inning of Game 1. Wyckoff said she hasn’t had an inside-the-park homer since she was “probably 11.”

“I tried last week, and I got thrown out, so,” Wyckoff said, laughing. “I slipped at every base. This time, I just went.”

Freshman Cameryn Harrison was dominant and is proving to be an irrepressible force at the plate and in the circle this postseason. Harrison allowed two hits and struck out seven and walked three for the five-inning Game 1 win. She went 13 innings and struck out 26 batters before surrendering her first playoff hit on Kennedy Hill’s single to lead off the fifth inning of Game 1.

“I think she’s commanding her spots a lot better,” Wyckoff said. “She’s been more focused mentally.”

But Harrison was flat-out torturous at the plate. She went 2-for-2, both homers, with a walk in Game 1. In Game 2, she led off the second inning with another home run before she was intentionally walked in each of her final three plate appearances.

“I was seeing that ball like it was a beach ball,” Harrison said. “It was super big coming in. Really putting in that extra work after practice, really trying to hit that peak for the playoffs, drives me to want to be able to produce for my team. That extra work helps a lot.”

In four playoff games, Harrison is hitting 4-for-9 (.444) with seven RBIs. All of those hits have been home runs, including a grand slam.

“Coach Haack has been giving us more opportunities to build our confidence during BP (batting practice) and really letting us discover what we can do as a hitter,” Harrison said. “That’s helped build our bats.”

Against Heights, Harrison and Wyckoff each hit three homers. Freshman Ashtyn Reichardt, sophomore Peyton Watson, junior Emily Parks and senior Olivia McFadden also homered.

“It definitely keeps our intensity up,” Harrison said of the home runs. “I feel like sometimes as a team we lack in intensity, because we’re playing teams that we crush. By us coming out and hitting the ball like that, we really needed that because we’d been struggling.”

The Tigers have outscored their competition, 46-4, in the playoffs. Still, Haack said there are “things we did really, really well, and then there’s things that I can’t believe we still do.”

That comes with a young team, but it also comes with the high standard established within Haack’s program culture. After all, the last time the UIL had a Class 6A state champion, Katy was holding the trophy in Austin.

“We’re still a work in progress and we’ll get better and better as we go,” Haack said. “As long as we make sure that we’re improving our practice and making the things in practice a little more important that what we’re doing right now.”

Haack saw a lot to agonize over against Heights, no matter how many balls landed beyond the outfield fence. He saw players bunt at outside pitches; one even bunted at a pitch-out. Two-strike hitting remains an issue. The timing on stolen base attempts is off.

“Whether we run-rule them or not, I don’t care,” Haack said. “I expect us to play at a certain level and execute at a certain level. Because when we’re playing against a pitcher that’s throwing the ball in the mid-60s and moving it, we’re not going to hit this many home runs. In order for us to be successful, we’re going to have to move runners into scoring position. We’re not going to be able to just sit there and bang away.”

His players are aware there is a lot of ground to still cover.

“Our confidence is high, but we’re staying humble,” Harrison said. “There’s always room to improve, so I’m excited to see where we end up.”

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