On Friday night, the Atascocita Lady Eagles and the Klein Collins Lady Tigers will begin their quest for a state softball title as they play a one game series in the opening round of the 2015 Texas High School UIL Softball Playoffs. Some might question whether Klein Collins stands a chance against the nationally ranked Lady Eagles but a closer look at the two teams reveals this contest may go down to the final at bat.
Atascocita Lady Eagles Klein Collins Lady Tigers
Head Coach: Ashley Boyd Head Coach: Rosemary Rhodes
Overall Record: 22-3 Overall Record: 14-10
District Record: 10-2 District Record: 10-5
Under first year head coach Ashley Boyd, the Atascocita Lady Eagles have not missed a beat in continuing the winning tradition begun under former head coach Jim Grotenhuis who passed away unexpectedly last July. In late March, the 20th ranked Lady Eagles climbed as high as number three in the national USA Today Super 25 poll. 2015 has seen the Lady Eagles average 7.2 runs per game while surrendering less than two runs a game. Winners of eight out their last ten games, the Lady Eagles are well rested having finished the regular season on April 17t in a 5-2 win over Deer Park.
Don’t let the 14-10 record fool you, the Klein Collins Lady Tigers are as used to winning as Atascocita. The program under the direction of head coach Rosemary Rhodes has enjoyed seven straight winning seasons. Featuring a young Lady Tigers squad (7 sophomores, 2 freshmen) Klein Collins brings a four game win streak into the winner take all game with Atascocita on Friday night having outscored their opponents 54-10 in those four contests.
Although much of the acclaim goes to Lady Eagles ace Shelby McGluan and for good reason the team is more than just one pitcher said head coach Ashley Boyd in an interview for this preview. McGluan teamed with fellow pitchers Tierrah Williams and Kandace Johnson for 22 wins. All three posted sub 2.00ERA’s. The trio give Boyd a lot of options should the starter run into trouble Friday night against a Lady Tigers offense that has shown a proclivity to score runs.
Much of Klein Collins pitching relies on the arm of senior hurler Kymber Green. Green leads the staff in wins (9) and innings pitched (74.2). Together, Green and sophomore Megan Kirchoff combined for 13 of the Lady Tigers 14 wins and thrown two no-hitters in the last month of the season. The duo do not combine for many strikeouts (67 strikeouts) but rather rely on an outstanding defense that has committed just 27 errors in 24 games behind them.
Atascocita boasts of a lineup consisting of seven hitters averaging .400 or better. Junior Madison Emswiler is the offensive catalyst hitting .457 at the top of the order with a team leading 33 hits. In a recent span, the Lady Eagles lead-off hitter reached based on 15 consecutive plate appearances including 12 hits and three walks. The middle of the order won’t leave the Klein Collins pitchers much room for error. McGluan hitting .516 in the clean-up spot has eleven extra base-hits including six homeruns. Right behind her is Kaitlyn Washington and her .411 average and nine extra base-hits. The bottom third of the order features sophomore Sarah Cedillo hitting .412 with a team high four triples.
The Klein Collins Lady Tigers have the offense to match Atascocita. Led by senior shortstop Demi Jank at the top of the order, the Lady Tigers have scored 84 first inning runs. Jank leads the team with a .485 batting average and team high 33 hits and 34 runs scored. Her 16 extra base hits are second only to clean-up hitter Adrianna Farris’ 16. Farris as expected leads in rbi’s (33) and home runs with six. Sophomore Alexis Freeman and freshmen Alexis Farris provide two more solid hitters hitting .395 and .357 respectively on a team which has struck out just 103 times in 24 games.
Key to Victory
For both team the message is as simple as sports clichés go; each team must play their game.
One Final Thought
These two teams have met once this season and if that game was any indication of how this game will be played, the fans are in for a real treat. In the only meeting of the year on Tuesday night February 10th, Atascocita edged Klein Collins 4-3. Alexis Smith’s two run homerun gave the Lady Tigers an early first inning lead before Atascocita rallied for a 4-3 win. The teams had met five times previously with Atascocita winning the last three.
Game Info: Klein Collins v Atascocita @ Atascocita High School 7:00p.m.
Written by Lou Roesch