High School Softball

Sophomore Abke leads Spartans to playoffs

By Dennis Silva II, Sports Editor
Posted 4/24/21

Champions want to win, Seven Lakes softball coach Katie Spencer often stresses to her players. A perfect example is sophomore ace/slugger Amy Abke.

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High School Softball

Sophomore Abke leads Spartans to playoffs

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Champions want to win, Seven Lakes softball coach Katie Spencer often stresses to her players. A perfect example is sophomore Amy Abke.

“Champions work hard behind the scenes, and they work hard when it’s uncomfortable and they have discipline and structure, and she has all of that,” Spencer said.

Abke showed as much when she led the Spartans to the playoffs this weekend. With Seven Lakes needing two wins to make the postseason as part of a District 19-6A round-robin play-in tournament, Abke was spectacular, striking out 16, walking one and allowing one hit in a 7-0 win over Taylor on Thursday, April 22, and then striking out eight and walking two in another one-hit gem in a 2-0 win over Mayde Creek on Saturday, April 24, at Morton Ranch High.

Seven Lakes, which started the district season with five losses in six games but has won five of its last eight games, is 10-12 going into the playoffs next week.

Along with the two complete-game shutouts, Abke also contributed a booming solo homer to lead off the fifth inning against Mayde Creek that provided needed insurance.

“I just felt like whenever I got up on the mound, I couldn’t let it slip through my fingers,” Abke said. “I made sure to work extra hard and finish for my team.”

Against Taylor, Abke’s curveball and rise ball were daggers as the Mustangs swung away helplessly. Against Mayde Creek, it was Abke’s location on and around the plate that kept Rams hitters off balance as she made a concerted effort to keep the ball low.

The Spartans scattered six hits against Rams pitching, but it was Abke’s ninth home run of the season that seemed to tilt the game in Seven Lakes’ favor for good.

“Coach Spencer always tells me to go with the pitch, and I knew they were going to throw the ball off the plate,” Abke said. “I think them thinking that they’d go off the plate or on the plate would screw me up … my favorite pitch to hit is the inside pitch.”

Abke’s shot to deep left was impressive.

“She’s a rock star physically,” Spencer said. “She’s emotionally and mentally balanced. She’s a leader. She does the right thing when no one’s looking. The ethics are huge.”

Mayde Creek, which finished its season 6-10, played admirably. The Rams brought the tying run to the plate after Madyson Rodriguez tripled with two outs in the seventh inning before Abke got the final out with a strikeout looking.

Both teams overcame a lot to put themselves in position for the playoffs.

Mayde Creek had three starters out of its lineup due to COVID-19 in the first four games of the district season. Coach Jill Voss’s team also dealt with significant tragedy within the families of multiple players because of COVID-19 throughout the course of the season.

Seven Lakes is a young team. Spencer starts six sophomores, a freshman and no seniors. The Spartans persevered through a 10-day absence from Abke early in the district season because of injury, resulting in two losses.

“All year long, we talk about how much growth we’ve had day in and day out,” Spencer said. “These kids work their butts off. They had adversity in the beginning, didn’t like the feel of that, so we used that and tugged on those feelings. For young kids to bottle those feelings and say, ‘I don’t want to feel like that,’ they knew it was their time to shine.”

Abke’s absence initially created a sense of apprehension. But a 4-3 loss to Morton Ranch actually left the Spartans inspired as they saw they could hold their own without their top pitcher and power hitter.

“When she came back, they had a sense of ownership,” Spencer said. “Yes, Amy sweetens our pot, but they knew then they’d all have a role. A great team is going to show their growth, and every time we played a district opponent, they got better and better.”

The Spartans have come a long way. In 2019, they did not win a district game. Last year, they were loaded with wide-eyed, yet precociously talented, freshmen in an abbreviated season that was cut short due to the pandemic.

This year, they’ve essentially won two playoff games, and now await the postseason with momentum, optimism and appreciation.

Junior leadoff hitter Makinzie Stutts, who is hitting almost .500 this season, often brings up that 2019 team she was on that went winless in district, harping to the younger players to be grateful for what they have now.

“My goal for them is to have a remembrance of the experience, down to the smell of the field and the fact that it’s not just a game and not everybody gets to do this,” Spencer said. “So, they can remember how we got here and what it actually means. These girls aren’t quitters. They’re not embarrassed by errors. They pick each other up when things are down. They’re winners.”

Seven Lakes High School, Seven Lakes Spartans, high school softball, Amy Abke, Katy ISD, athletics, District 19-6A, Katie Spencer

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