Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

Sports

May 22, 2013

GC Softball: Single focus - Hubbard has sights set on steady Sam Rayburn

Corsicana — When Tuesday’s rains blew through Hubbard, blowing up the last half of practice, the Lady Jags loaded up, and went home.

They can only hope to be loading up and going south next week.

Hubbard (24-6-1) has a chance to set GPS devices for Austin if the Lady Jags can get past Sam Rayburn (28-2) Friday in the Region II-1A championship. Set for 6:30 p.m. at Forney High School, it’s one-game, winner-take-all affair.

One-half of a missed practice this late in the year will not hurt.

“Practice right now is more about fine-tuning things,” Hubbard coach Mike Saucke said Wednesday. “It’s more of a mental game now.”

And that should bode well for Hubbard. And Sam Rayburn.

The Lady Rebels are 28-2, a year after losing in the state finals to Flatonia, 6-4, in extra innings. Sam Rayburn swept a very good Bosqueville team to get to the regional finals, and over the last two years the Lady Rebels are 52-3-1.

It’s a very good team, Saucke admitted.

“They have seven seniors, and their kids play all the time,” he said. “They don’t play volleyball. They’re solid 1-9. It’s a quality team, a quality coach, and they do not make mistakes.”

But even with six losses, the Lady Jags are nothing to sneeze at. A state poll said Hubbard was coming in under the radar, of sorts, late in the season, something Saucke doesn’t exactly believe.

The Lady Jags play a tough non-district schedule and played in a really good 11-1A.

“We’ve played some really, really good teams too,” he said.

And yet here they are.

Had you asked him before school started, or back before the season started, he would have likely told you anything less than the state tournament would have been a disappointment.

“As loaded as our region was, we’re fortunate to be where we are,” Saucke said. “We’re one of the top two teams in our region, and I really think one of the top four in the state.”

Sam Rayburn’s in that top tier too, and after scoring 19 runs in two games against Bosqueville, has the ability to score. But so do the Lady Jags.

Hubbard has five players that have hit at least two home runs this year, led by shortstop Dallas Fletcher with five. Center fielder Nakaila Banks has four, first baseman Jessica Williams has hit three, and Kate Saucke and Kailynn Brown have two each.

Kate Saucke missed her third last week by a foot, banging a long drive off the eight-foot metal wall 215-feet away from home plate in a 3-0 win over Trenton in Crandall.

Sam Rayburn has some pop too, Saucke said, and can be intimidating. It’s what 52 wins in two years and a state finals berth get you.

The Lady Jags just need to relax Friday and play, he said.

“If we’re on,” Saucke said, “it should be a good game. If we’re off, it could get ugly quickly.”

The Lady Jags do have one possible advantage in their hip pocket, the single game series. It’s worked for four weeks, when both teams agreed to it. This week, Saucke had to win a flip. Sam Rayburn wanted a series.

“It may end up biting us, but when you get to Austin, you don’t get to play a series,” Saucke said. “It’s one game.”

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