Originally Appeared on VYPE
HOUSTON – It was a moment that they've been so close to for the past three years.
Each time though, the season instead ended in heartbreak and them standing by watching the opposing team celebrate and dog-pile in the middle of the field as Regional Champions.
But not this time.
With a swinging strikeout, Alyssa LeBlanc flung her glove into the air as catcher Cait Calland raced out to her with the rest of the team in tow to embrace and jump around in celebration after a 12-3 victory over Deer Park propelled Katy to its first State Tournament since 2015 on Thursday.
"Our seniors have been in this situation for four-straight years and have been beaten in the Regional Finals," Katy coach Kalum Haack said. "It's not only frustrating but it's disheartening because it's such a great group of kids. I'm really going to miss these guys.
"For them to overcome finally and put it all together, I'm really proud of them and excited for them that they're going to get to experience something very few people get to experience in their careers."
As the Astros prepare to play their first game of spring training against the Nationals this Saturday, we're starting to see reports about how the players approached the offseason, and what tweaks they made to improve in the 2024 season.
Cristian Javier is a player Astros fans are hoping bounces back this year, as his ERA jumped from 2.54 in 2022 to 4.56 in 2023. Workload was thought to be one of the main factors causing his regression, he dealt with a dead arm last season and threw more innings than ever before (162).
Another explanation could be the pitch clock. This was another new element all pitchers had to deal with last year, and that also likely played a role in his struggles.
But according to The Athletic's Chandler Rome, Javier believes he was carrying some extra weight last season. Add that to some mechanical issues he was experiencing, and his struggles in 2023 make a lot more sense. And to be fair, he wouldn't be the first person to get a little fat and happy after winning a World Series.
Cristian Javier said he lost around 15 pounds this offseason. He acknowledged that some of his struggles last year could be attributed to some extra weight he was carrying around in addition to the already-documented mechanical flaws he had.
— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) February 22, 2024
In an effort to get back on track in 2024, Javier said he lost around 15 pounds this offseason. With the pitch clock not going anywhere, pitchers need to be in better cardiac shape than ever before.
Hopefully this modification helps Javier return to form and put up jaw-dropping numbers like he did in 2022. This rotation needs Javier to be the dominate pitcher we all know he's capable of being. With Justin Verlander behind schedule and Framber Valdez trying to bounce back from his own down year, Houston will depend on Javier like never before.
The Astros are certainly counting on it after giving him a 5-year, $64 million contract last season. Javier will definitely be a player to watch this spring.