Keller’s run for yet another state tournament appearance fell short last week, as the Lady Indians lost in three games to Lubbock Coronado in the regional quarterfinals. The series was played at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls.
Keller had come out strong in the series, picking up a win in Game 1, 7-3.
The Lady Indians would drop Game 2, 11-0 and then have the series slip through their hands in Game 3, 4-3.
“Getting the first one, we felt good about where we were,” said Keller head coach Bryan Poehler of the Game 1 win.
Keller had faced Coronado’s ace pitcher and Poehler said they felt the team should be able to then handle whatever pitcher came out for Game 2.
But with nothing to lose, Coronado sent their star back out on the mound for Games 2 and 3, too.
Keller’s pitcher in Game 2 “didn’t throw the game she wanted to throw,” Poehler said, “and we couldn’t get our bats going.”
The deciding game had Keller stake a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning, only to have Coronado score two of their own in the top half of the fifth.
In the sixth inning, Coronado put another two runs across and Keller countered with a single run in the bottom half of the inning.
Keller couldn’t mount a rally in the final inning and the season ended for the young Lady Indians. They finished the season at 27-10.
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“It was an emotional time and it hit really quick and the whole thing is over,” Poehler said.
With four seniors on the roster, Poehler said he expects the team will be back next year and hopefully take the next step in the playoff brackets.
Even with youth and key injuries, the Lady Indians may have been further along in the playoffs than some may have thought at the season’s outset.
“I think we may have had at least one more round in us,” Poehler said.
The strength of the team was its offense, and when the bats don’t produce, Keller proved to be vulnerable.
“Our magic number is five,” Poehler said. “When we score five or more runs, we’ve won 100 percent of our games,” he explained. “When we score five runs or less, we’ve lost 100 percent of our games.”
Although there was disappointment, there was plenty of pride for Keller’s coach.
“I love the way they fought and found a way to win,” Poehler said. “It’s a young group, but they always seemed to find a way to win. That’s one of the reasons why I was shocked, because I just knew we’d find a way to win the last game.”