Fossil Ridge, Keller prep for playoffs

Posted Monday, Apr. 29, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Fossil Ridge and Keller finished out the regular season in different fashions, but the focus is the same this week as the two teams prepare for their first-round baseball playoff games starting Thursday.

Fossil Ridge blew out Timber Creek on Friday to secure second place in District 4-5A, while Keller bowed to Richland, 5-4 in extra innings.

The win by Richland put them in third place, while Keller settles for fourth.

With the seeds set, Fossil Ridge will be paired with Arlington Bowie of District 3-5A, with Keller having to take on district champs Arlington Martin.

Both series will start on Thursday at 7:30 pm, as Bowie and Keller will host the first-of-three series. The Friday games will alternate to Fossil Ridge and Martin fields with the site for a potential third game of each series to be announced, but a neutral site will be sought.

Fossil Ridge needed the win over Timber Creek to maintain their second-place finish in light of the Richland win, so there was no coasting into the playoffs mindset, said Panthers head coach Doug Delany.

“We started Sheldon (Neuse) and brought in (Kinniel) Rivera (-Gonzalez),” Dulany said of using his best pitchers. “We’d have to have a playoff game with Richland otherwise,” he said if his Panthers had lost to the Falcons.

Keller, which had locked up the playoff spot previously, was fighting for the better seed against Richland.

Having just lost heading into the playoffs wasn’t too much of a concern for Keller head coach Rob Stramp, but he admits his young team found the loss frustrating.

“We had the lead a couple of times, then gave it up the next inning,” Stramp said. “Our team is so young this year, there’s not much playoff experience to draw on.”

The season starts over with the playoffs, but drawing Martin isn’t exactly what Keller would have preferred. But maybe the seeding is playing to the Indians’ historical advantage.

“The last two years we’ve drawn the number 1 seed and beat Hebron, and before that we played a number 1 seed in Plano and had two 1-run games,” Stramp said. “We’ve been in this situation before.”

Dulany also feels good about his team’s chances.

“We have playoff experience,” Dulany explained. “And as long as we can get into a series with someone, our pitching will do well for us. If we keep the other guys off base, then they can’t do any damage.”

Neuse, the pitching ace for Fossil Ridge and Oklahoma signee, has led the team the last few years and is expected to take the Panthers deep into the playoffs in his senior season.

Delany said he knows Bowie has one very strong pitcher, TCU signee Robby Mendel, and then have a few hitters that can swing the bat well.

Should either Fossil Ridge and/or Keller win the first-round series, they’ll likely be paired with El Paso-area schools for the second round. Such a matchup would mean bus trips to Midland, Odessa or Abilene for that next step in the playoffs.

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