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HiLine Athlete Profile: Lauren Kato, Havre High Softball

Kato is ready for divisionals and Dawson County

 

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Havre High senior Lauren Kato throws a pitch against Lewistown in a 3-0 shutout win earlier this season. Thursday, Kato and the Ponies will head to Lewistown for the Central A Divisional tournament with the top three teams headed to the Class A state tournament.

Lauren Kato knows a thing or two about executing under pressure and as the ace for the Havre High softball team, she will face plenty of that this Thursday in Lewistown as she tries to pitch her team to the Class A state tournament.

Of course, Kato won't be doing anything on her own. She will have a solid defense behind her and an offense led by Kinzee Peterson, who has a school-record eight home runs this season for the Ponies.

But if Havre wants to win a game at divisionals Thursday and advance to yet another state tournament, Kato will need to be on her game and more than once this season she has shown she's up to the task.

"We have a lot of confidence in Lauren," HHS head coach Tony Vigliotti said. "She does a great job of hitting her spots, throwing strikes and always being consistent."

Maybe her most impressive performance this softball season came after one of her worst. On the road, in Lewistown, the Eagles racked up 22 hits and 20 runs in a 20-10 win over the Ponies.

The two teams met just a few days later in Havre and facing the same lineup that scored 20 runs against her team, Kato tossed a three-hit shutout, earning a complete-game victory in what turned out to be the Ponies lone conference win of the season.

It was a clutch performance but it's to be expected from Kato, who has been the top pitcher all season for HHS and was also a strong contributor off the bench for the Havre girls basketball team, which has won back-to-back Class A state championships.

While Kato and the Ponies desperately want to keep their season alive - which they need one win Thursday to do - no matter what happens, Kato won't be done playing softball, not after she signed to play recently alongside teammate Janae Boles with Dawson Community College.

"I am really excited about it," Kato said. "Softball is something I really enjoy and it's a big part of my life and I am just really glad I get the chance to keep playing. Getting a chance to do that has been one of my goals and I am looking forward to it."

Kato said she would be pursuing a nursing degree. She said she was not sure where she would play, although she has extensive experience playing at third base on top of pitching. Kato has also been a really solid hitter this season for Havre and comes into divisionals fresh off a weekend that included hits in four straight games.

For the season, Kato is hitting .333 and has 11 RBIs to go along with four runs. On the mound, she has a record of 4-5 and a total of 45 strikeouts to go along with an ERA that is 6.7. She also has been very strong with her control this season and has issued very few walks or wild pitches.

During the first three years of her high school career, the Ponies have advanced to state and Kato is hoping that she and her teammates can enjoy the experience one more time. Yet, before Kato and the Ponies head to Lewistown for the divisional tournament, the Havre Daily News caught up with the Havre High senior for five questions.

HDN: What are your feelings about playing at Dawson Community College next year?

Kato: "Softball has always been a big part of my life and to be able to continue that on, it's going to be really exciting. That's what I have been working and just knowing that hard work has paid off is really awesome."

HDN: What are you looking forward to with the divisional tournament this week?

Kato: "Hopefully we can go down there and get at least one win so we can get to the state tournament. We just have to go down there and do our best and play hard. We all have to do what we are supposed to do."

HDN: How much does getting back to state mean to you as a senior?

Kato: "It means a lot. Last year, we went down there and that was great, but it always means more when it's you last year and so hopefully, we will make it. We are going to make it."

HDN: What has it been like taking on more of the load pitching these last few weeks?

Kato: "It's hard to explain. It's a lot of pressure but I just try to relax. You can't put too much pressure on yourself. I have just learned that I have to trust my teammates to help me."

HDN: What have you enjoyed most about being a Blue Pony softball player?

Kato: "I like the people. The atmosphere is really great. The team, the coaches and everything is always fun and it has always been great. We all have the same goal and it's nice to have that team mindset of all working towards that one goal."

 

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