HOUSTON - When Michelle Rochinski fills out her lineup card for Lake Creek softball in the spring for the first time, she will have the luxury of penciling in not just one but multiple college-level caliber players into it.
The Lions, who went 38-2 and reached the Region III-5A Championship game and fell to eventual State Champion Barbers Hill last year, will enter the 2022 season as a popular pick to make a deep run and for good reason.
In the past week, Lake Creek has had four players commit to play at the next level - Ava Brown (Florida), Caelee Clark (Texas Lutheran), Maddie McKee (LSU) and Kalee Rochinski (UTSA).
"It has been wonderful seeing my teammates success and getting to be right by their side for it," Kalee said. "I'm so happy for each and every single one of them and know that all of us will do big things."
McKee added: "We are all so excited for each other and excited to cheer each other on. It makes us want to win a state championship even more."
Congratulations to Kalee Rochinski for committing to The University of Texas at San Antonio. Proud of you and we are excited to see what you accomplish at the next level. @ConroeSports @PhilTweaton @coach_haze @coachrochinski @ADHeard_MISD @LakeCreekHS pic.twitter.com/ldv2Ibanof— Lake Creek Softball (@LakeCreek_SB) October 5, 2021
Along with those four, once cannot forget about Madelyn Lopez, who committed to Syracuse softball back in 2020, giving them five commits heading into 2022.
Lopez hit .526 last season with 16 doubles and drove in 52 runs, while Brown hit for .591 with 17 home runs, 22 doubles and drove in 65 runs. She was also 16-0 with a 0.92 ERA in the circle with five no hitters and two perfect games. Brown struck out 167 batters to only six walks in 84 innings.
"It's nice knowing that the majority of our girls on the team are working for that next step after high school," Clark said. "We all have a common goal and push each other to be the best."
I will be continuing my education and softball career at Texas Lutheran University. I want to thank my parents, sisters, coaches, teammates and friends for the love and support! @tluathletics @TLUsoftball @LakeCreek_SB @IG_Jackson18u pic.twitter.com/c1g2tlzDA6— Caelee Clark (@ClarkCaelee) October 1, 2021
It has been a busy few weeks for this crew of Lions as they were taking official visits, which eventually sold them on their ultimate decision.
McKee, who hit .575 with five home runs, five triples, six doubles and 34 RBIs, took a visit to Baton Rouge and was sold on the Tigers' culture.
"The atmosphere, the facilities, and how much the LSU fans and the coaches care about their school and players is something I have never experienced before," McKee said. "Playing college softball has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl and finally seeing all my hard work pay off is one of the best feelings in the world."
I’m so happy and excited to announce that I have committed to Louisiana State University to continue my academic and athletic career. GEAUX TIGERS💜💛🐯 pic.twitter.com/Fl6B0IQa4r— Maddie McKee (@mmaddiemmckee) October 3, 2021
For Texas Lutheran University, the Bulldogs are getting the "skills as a middle infielder and hitter" of Clark, who hit .500 with 10 doubles, four triples and drove in 45 runs last year for the Lions.
But for Clark her vision of her success at TLU goes beyond the softball field.
"The academic reputation and medical program at TLU was also a big seller to me," Clark said. "I plan on becoming a doctor, so I'm excited to get the best education possible at a place that takes pride in the pathway i want to pursue.
Clark added: "Getting to play softball in college means that all the hard work and long days at the softball park will all be payed off. A new chapter is opening in my life and I can't wait to see what else is to come."
For UTSA, Rochinski - Michelle's daughter - they are getting a catcher who hit .389 last season for the Lions with 10 doubles, five home runs and drove in 23 runs. She also had a .998 fielding percentage behind the dish with only one error.
"UTSA is the place for me because the coaches are so awesome and so caring," Rochinski said. "Plus the environment is wonderful, there's so many restaurants and fun things to do around there. Getting to play college softball to me means that I get four more years of playing the sport I've loved all my life. I get to go out on the field and have an opportunity that not everyone gets and love every second of it."
But before these players go an pull on their respective college uniforms either next fall or in 2023, there is still business to be handled at Lake Creek - winning the program's first-ever state championship.
The Lions were close to the big show in Austin last year and feel they have the pieces inside the Lions den to get there in 2022.
"I believe every year we have the potential to be great," Clark said. "With positive team chemistry and a good use of our teams talent I think we're going to be great just like the previous years."
McKee added: "We believe we could win a state championship."
I’m very blessed to announce my commitment to the University of Florida!! GO GATORS🧡💙🐊 pic.twitter.com/4muzQWrCsw— Ava Brown (@avajbrownn) September 27, 2021