Foster routs Milby to open playoffs, eyes area round challenge

Foster routs Milby to open playoffs, eyes area round challenge (Copyright (c) 2022 VYPE - All rights reserved)

RICHMOND—Foster’s softball program has plenty of tradition.

The Falcons have made the playoffs every season since the school opened in 2003. They were state finalists in 2018.

This season, Foster yearns to get back to the standard of lengthy playoff runs. The Falcons have not been past the area round since that 2018 season, and that is goal No. 1.

Wednesday was a fine start in the right direction.

Foster opened the postseason routing an outmatched Milby team, 16-0, in three innings at Foster High School to win its Class 5A bi-district playoff. Twelve runs on 10 hits in the second inning was more than enough.

Foster, ranked No. 18 in Class 5A in the state and No. 6 in the Greater Houston area, improved to 29-6.

“Going in, we’re obviously thinking we need to push ourselves,” said senior Ripley Welker, who went 2-for-3 with four RBIs, including a two-run homer. “Every single one of us thinks we’re capable of going far. We haven’t been past the second round since my eighth-grade year, and I really think this year we have a lot of potential to see that through.”

The Falcons will likely get defending state champ Barbers Hill in the area round next week. The Eagles, ranked No. 3 in the state, play Manvel in their bi-district matchup this week.

Barbers Hill eliminated Foster in the 2019 bi-district playoffs. The 2020 season was abruptly canceled because of the coronavirus. Crosby beat Foster 2-1 in a best-of-three area series last season.

“Just knowing that everyone is beatable, and anyone can win on any given day,” Foster coach Keely Shuler said. “Barbers Hill has a great program, and not getting that hype in our heads that it’s Barbers Hill will be important. We are Foster. We know we can show up and compete with any of the top programs, so keeping that mentality and staying confident at the plate will be key.”

Foster returned more than 10 players from last year’s team. As a result, it’s a more experienced and resilient club.

“It’s a different type of maturity level,” said junior Mickayla Tosch, who went 3-for-3 with three RBIs against Milby, including a two-run home run. “We’ve been in this situation before. We have a lot of returners. We’re a lot more mature than we were last year.”

Shuler said she has a very supportive team. The bond and chemistry have been significant to the Falcons’ success. Welker said the team knows how good it is and knows what it has to do to get over the area round hump.

“What we need to do is adjust early to the pitcher and stay focused,” Welker said. “We really need to believe in ourselves. Stay positive and lift each other up. Last year, I think we were complacent and didn’t really push ourselves. We weren’t expecting it.”

Foster has the bats and pitching to be a potent team. The Falcons had 15 hits in two innings against Milby. No one struck out. Foster pitching, led by senior Peyton Welker, struck out six Milby batters and surrendered two baserunners in three innings.

“This builds our confidence,” Tosch said of the win. “We know we can play. We just have to play at our level.”