Katy, Cinco Ranch Turn Up Heat In Regional Rematch

By Terry Carter

Katy and Cinco Ranch engaged in a battle of softball willpower on Thursday in their Region III-6A quarterfinal showdown.

Other than one sloppy play, the District 19-6A rivals played the first four innings even. Katy posted two runs early on a Cinco Ranch miscue, but the Lady Cougars did not blink. They backed up junior pitcher Chela Kovar and trailed only 2-0 after four frames.

Then the real game began.

The Katy players were called together mid-game for a quiet talk by Katy assistant coach Meghan Burrell. With perfect timing and when executed well by coaches, the huddled whisper talks have become the motivators for great teams in recent decades.

And this talk found the hearts of the power-hitting Lady Tigers lineup.

Leading off the top half of the fifth inning, Katy hitters connected with some authority although Kovar and the Cinco Ranch defense shut the Lady Tigers down with solid defense.

In the bottom of the fifth and trailing 2-0, the home team made their move with a fiery determination. Katy and Cinco Ranch both demonstrated on Thursday that they were mentally prepared to battle and rebound from challenges.  Kovar provided emphasis when she crushed a pitch from Katy sophomore Cameryn Harrison for a 2-run home run to tie the game, 2-2, in the bottom of the fifth.

With their lead erased, Katy players didn’t flinch as Cinco Ranch’s rally. The Lady Tigers took their second round of at-bats with great intent after the talk. This time, first baseman Montgomery Henderson crushed a Kovar pitch to the wall. Then Harrison, the intense sophomore slugger, launched her 2-run home run out of the park to give the Lady Tigers a 4-2 advantage.

“The inning before, I gave up a home run. I was thinking ‘Do a job for your team. That home run — that’s on me.’ So when I saw this pitch, I said that is my pitch, and I just let go on it. I was seeing the ball well,” Harrison said after the game.”

Cinco did not score again. Katy, however, pushed home three more runs in the top of the seventh with an inning-igniting double by senior Kailey Wyckoff off the right-centerfield wall. After a sacrifice by Erynne Castillo, Wyckoff scored on a hard, RBI single by Ashlyn Reichardt. She moved to second on a passed ball and scored as Henderson smashed a single and Hailey Gore collected an RBI.

“(Coach Haack) was telling us all week, emphasizing that they are doing everything better than when we beat them earlier. And when they hit that 2-run homer, they smacked us in the face (figuratively),” Wyckoff, who is committed to play softball at Stephen F. Austin State University, said. “Then we bounced back. I had a good feeling about this game. And even after they hit that home run, we didn’t panic. And earlier in the year, we may have panicked.

Cinco Ranch fought valiantly and lost 7-2 to Katy. The game was played at a much higher level than in district play earlier this season when the Lady Tigers 10-run ruled the Lady Cougars twice. But this game was decided by whispers.

The friendly rivals play tonight at 6 p.m., and, if necessary, a game three will begin 30 minutes after the end of game two.