Ridge, Keller locked into playoffs

Posted Monday, Apr. 22, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Thirteen games into the district baseball schedule and the playoff teams are set from District 4-5A.

What’s not known, though, is whether Fossil Ridge will head into the bi-district round as the second or third place seed, or if Keller will go in as the third or fourth place seed.

In fact, should Keller defeat Richland in the 14th game of district play and Fossil Ridge stumble at Timber Creek on Friday, the Indians and Panthers would end up in a second-place tie.

The Panthers, 23-6-1; 9-4, by virtue of their sweep of the Indians, would come out on top due to the tiebreaker.

Or, consider that with a Richland win over Keller – both teams locked at 8-5 in district – and a Ridge loss to the Falcons, the Panthers and Richland would be looking at a one-game playoff for the second place seed.

The two teams had split their district play games.

“We have to win for second place,” Fossil Ridge coach Doug Dulaney said. “We control our own destiny.”

Keller, which owns a 6-4 win over Richland earlier in the season, knows the advantages of getting a better draw in the first round.

Should they lose to Richland and go in to the playoffs as a fourth seed, they’ll face Arlington Martin, the District 3-5A champion which has gone undefeated and sports a 21-3 overall mark.

One of those 21 wins was a 14-7 decision over Keller in late-February nondistrict competition.

Keller head coach Rob Stramp said Martin is one the premier teams, given their talent in both pitching and hitting.

A third place finish would likely match the Indians against Weatherford, at 13-5.

“The first thing is to get in,” Stramp said of the playoffs. “Then, you want to better your position. That’s what the Richland game comes down to.”

For Fossil Ridge, the game with Timber Creek should seal a second-place finish. But the young Falcons have proven they’ve vastly improved as the season wore on.

Last Friday, Timber Creek gave Keller all they wanted in a 6-5 Indians win that wasn’t decided until the final inning.

“I think we just came out and let one play roll into another, because we had handled them easily the first game,” Stramp said. “Human nature takes over and you think it’s going to be the same thing the second time. In baseball, that’s the recipe for disaster. It’s so unpredictable that mentally you have to be ready to play.

“We’re a young team ourselves,” Stramp admitted. “We have to be on our game.”

Timber Creek has lost five district games by just one run, and lost another two by just two runs.

But the Panthers are one of the hottest teams in the district, having won 11 of the last 12 games.

“We started off in district losing three games,” Dulaney said. “And we lost them all in a different manner. It wasn’t just one thing you could put your finger on.

“It tested our resiliency,” Dulanay said. “Then we reeled off eight straight district wins. We really did have to take it one game at a time and didn’t get ahead of ourselves.”

Against Carroll on Friday, the Panthers ran into a buzz saw, Dulaney said, when they faced Tyler Alexander. The Carroll senior pitcher threw a no-hitter against Fossil Ridge in an 8-0 win.

Fossil Ridge had beaten Carroll earlier in the season to give them their only district loss.

“It won’t take our confidence having run into Tyler,” Dulaney said.

The Panthers are likely first round foes of either Weatherford or Arlington Bowie, according to how that district’s last games play out.

“I feel good,” Dulaney said of their position heading into the playoffs. “We have good depth in pitching and we have a couple of guys that people wouldn’t want to one-game us,” referring the option of teams to request a one-game, winner-take-all playoff series format.

Most teams with good pitching depth will opt for a best-of-three series.

With the TAKS testing this week, there are no Tuesday games.

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