Cobras beat Bloomington 16-0 on their road to state (w/video)
March 7, 2014 at 10:02 p.m.
Updated March 6, 2014 at 9:07 p.m.
The Industrial Cobras have a motto for the 2014 softball season: MITJ, or "Make it to June."
"We really want to push further than we did last year, and we're really working hard in practice," said Landry Mikulec, who started in the pitcher's circle for Industrial on Friday against Bloomington. "We know we have a team that can make it this year."
The Cobras (11-2, 3-0) have a winning combination of strong pitching and powerful bats, which led them to an 16-0 shutout against the Lady Cats.
"We have a lot of chemistry, and (coach Jesse Casarez) really pushes us to be the best we can be," Mikulec said.
The last two months are shaping up to be much different than last season.
Industrial's 2013 record was 19-14. The team made it to the quarterfinal round of playoffs before losing to Santa Gertrudis.
With its only losses this season coming at the hands of Richmond Foster and Shiner, the team has bought into a new philosophy, Casarez said.
"A lot of these good teams kind of get stale or stagnant sometimes - especially with great pitching, you tend to not press for much on the offensive side," he said. "We've got a ton of power as far as Madi Garza, Jordin Jones, Brittany Berger, Landry Mikulec - they're all power hitters."
Regardless of the power players, when any batter hits the plate, Casarez has instilled them with a "get a hit every time" attitude.
"We have to learn to manufacture some runs. That being said, it's good to get these games where everybody can get some reps and get some playing time at bat under certain situations and scenarios," Casarez said.
Mikulec pitched two full innings, striking out five batters, walking two and allowing one hit.
When senior pitcher Garza is at the helm, Mikulec takes all the action at first base.
"(It takes) a lot of practice," Mikulec said of being the first line of defense. "At practice, he'll line them up, and they'll throw as many as they can, as terrible as they can, to get me to work on movement and footwork, blocking and jumping. The key is repetition."
Garza took over pitching for Industrial in the third inning, after the Cobras built a 12-run inning.
She struck out two batters and allowed one base hit before the quick end to the inning and game.
A future Blinn Community College player, Garza's pitches have been clocked at 60 mph before, Casarez said.
"On a good day, she's got six or seven different pitches," he said.
Garza's life is 24/7 softball, she said, and it doesn't seem like she would want it any other way.
"I'm always pitching, working on my basics; I'm always at the batting cages," she said.
Even during spring break, Garza knows she'll be spending a majority of her time on the field.
That dedicated schedule will come in handy if the Cobras go deep into the playoffs.
"We've never won state before and never made it there, so that's our goal," Garza said. "We have a really good shot this year, and that's what we're shooting for."