The 2019 school year has felt like a dream already for Erie senior Kat Sackett.
Considered one of the top softball catchers in all of Colorado, Sackett has put together an impressive career and has been named all-region and all-state multiple years by BoCoPreps and the Colorado High School Activities Association.
This fall, she saved the best for last, setting career-high numbers at the plate to lead a potent Erie offense. Her play at the plate was one of the keys for the Tigers to win the Class 4A state championship in Aurora back in October, giving the program its 12th state championship and first since 2010.
For her performance this season, Sackett has been named the BoCoPreps.com softball player of the year.
“It’s kind of crazy to me,” Sackett said. “I remember at the beginning of the season and looking to our pitcher Megan (Loveland) and said that I felt we were going to win it all. After we did this team-bonding drill, I remember getting the chills and I looked at our pitcher and told her I felt it. Looking back at it, it’s crazy that it actually happened.”
The drill Sackett mentioned that opened her eyes on the team’s potential is known as the worm drill, where players are in two lines with softballs in hand at all times and were throwing and catching with each other while sprinting along the field and adding more balls to the drill. Sackett said the team was able to go along the entire field, a feat that first-year coach Vanessa Smith said she had not seen with any other team before.
Erie got off to an impressive 13-0 start to the season and outscored opponents, 185-54, in that span. The offense flourished and looked unstoppable at times, including from Sackett in the middle of the lineup. While she was slugging at the plate and helping the offense in a big way, she also worked with pitchers Loveland, Alyssa Barnett and Jaden Chambers as the team’s catcher.
What followed was a critical juncture to the season as Erie started to struggle. After winning the first 13 games, Erie dropped the next three and went through its first losing streak. The season appeared to get back on track with another three-game win streak, but the Tigers would finish the regular season on a four-game losing streak heading into regionals.
With little momentum and the team being given the No. 14 in the state bracket, it appeared the vision that Sackett saw might have been a mirage to those on the outside. So the team took a drastic step to stay focused and avoid and doubt they could still get the job done.
“Something we said to each other was to stay off social media, don’t listen to our parents and the doubt on the outside,” Sackett said. “When you let the doubt feed into your thoughts, you’re going to go in thinking you’re going to lose. If I had known that Pueblo South was No. 3 going into that game (at state), I would have approached the game differently. I stayed offline and tried to focus on one game at a time.”
The Tigers would outslug Pueblo South in the opening round to win 18-14 in eight innings, a game in which Sackett went 3-for-4. The offense continued to pour it on winning 10-4 over D’Evelyn in the quarterfinals to secure a trip back on Aurora for the final day. Sackett’s best offensive game in the state tournament came in the semifinal round against Holy Family as she hit two home runs and drove in three runs to help the Tigers defeat Holy Family 9-5 to reach the state championship game.
In the championship final, Erie did what it had done all season at the plate and recorded 18 hits, none bigger than the ones in the top of the eighth to score four runs to take a 13-9 lead over Golden. The game would eventually end on a strikeout, caught by Sackett behind the plate, to complete the vision she saw of her team winning the state title.
“I didn’t realize we won at first, but then I realized I caught the ball and that we had won,” Sackett said. “I looked at my pitcher and just started sprinting after her. It felt amazing.”
Sackett pulled her weight for the Tigers with a .565 batting average, 15 home runs, 12 doubles and 47 RBIs at the plate.
Her dream year did not come to an end with the state title. A few weeks after leading Erie to the state championship, Sackett signed a National Letter of Intent to play softball at Marshall University in West Virginia during the early signing day period. She made her commitment after taking an official visit to the school following the team’s run in the state tournament.
“I love it there,” Sackett said. “I’ve been dreaming of playing in college since I was 6 years old.”
And now, the vision Sackett has seen from an early age and before the season began has been written into history.