Seven Lakes advances to regional semifinals for first time in six years

By Tyler Tyre, Sports Editor
Posted 5/14/22

“This is huge, it’s huge for the girls, for us coaches, really for everybody,” Koopman said. “This is the furthest I’ve ever been as a player or a coach. I’m so excited, we aren’t ready to stop either.”

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Seven Lakes advances to regional semifinals for first time in six years

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Seven Lakes offense is finding its stride.

The Spartans scored more than five runs in each of their last three games heading into the regional quarterfinals, and the groups confidence grew with every game.

So even after two low scoring games against George Ranch, the Spartans knew exactly what they needed to do heading into a series deciding third game on Thursday.

“We knew we had to make an adjustment because we’ve been seeing the ball really well at the plate, we were just out in front of everything,” said senior short stop Makinzie Stutts. “We just figured out how to be patient and wait on all of her pitches. We didn’t see that a lot this season. But we really had to work on hitting the top of the ball since she had a lot of the spin. That was our biggest change.”

That along with a lineup switch that moved Amy Abke to the leadoff spot were all the Spartans needed to unlock the offense in a 7-3 win for the Spartans to take the series..

After Abke surrendered a run in the top of the first inning, but came back right away in the bottom of the inning with a solo home run to start things on the right foot offensively. Stutts immediately followed that up with a triple and Emma Wingate drove her in with a single to hand Seven Lakes a lead they would not relinquish.

“I was surprised I was leading off to be honest,” Abke said. “But I just wanted to come out and get us started the right way. I just waited on my pitch, sat back and made solid contact, it just happened to go over the fence.”

Abke wasn’t done, as she doubled the Seven Lakes lead in the second inning by hitting a 2-run home run to give the team breathing room.

“They were much more selective today and they made an effort not to try and jack the ball out of the park,” said Seven Lakes head coach Holly Koopman. “Ironically, once they did that, we got home runs. But they did a good job of trying to make solid hits and not trying to skyrocket them.”

Things remained that way until the fifth inning, when George Ranch got a run across in the top of the inning to which Seven Lakes responded. Abke came to the plate again with a runner on, and rather than pitching to her, George Ranch intentionally walked Abke, bringing Stutts to the plate. Stutts then came up clutch, driving in a run on a sacrifice fly before Wingate drove in Abke with a single.

“I just wanted to make them pay and get a run across after they walked Amy,” Stutts said. “It’s happened before and I saw it coming, especially after she had hit two home runs. It just makes me want it even more when they do that though. It makes me feel like they’re underestimating me, and I was just glad to drive in a run for my team off it.”

Abke got into a jam in the seventh inning, as George Ranch loaded the bases, but she was able to overcome it and get the final outs to secure the win.

“I just took a deep breath and focused on my legs and my spin,” Abke said. “I went at the batter and I knew we had a lead, so I just wanted to get the out and have her put it in play. It was a good feeling.”

The Spartans advance to their first regional semifinal since 2016, where they will face the winner of Deer Park and Brazoswood, date and times to be announced.

“This is huge, it’s huge for the girls, for us coaches, really for everybody,” Koopman said. “This is the furthest I’ve ever been as a player or a coach. I’m so excited, we aren’t ready to stop either.”

Katy ISD, sports, Seven Lakes, softball, Amy Abke, George Ranch

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