The Keller baseball team swept another series important series with Timber Creek last week, but staying in first place is never easy.
The Indians edged Timber Creek 8-7 in their early week game before giving themselves a little more breathing room in their Friday win, 6-1.
Keller now stands at 8-0 in District 5-6A, and 12-2-1 overall. Byron Nelson in second at 6-2.
This week, Keller will take on Denton Ryan. They’ll face Fossil Ridge and Northwest to close out the regular season series.
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The new twist in this year’s schedule is to play a home-and-home with the same team each week, rather than the previous format of a cycle of teams in two rounds on the schedule.
“I like it because is gives you a feel for the entire pitching staff,” said Keller head coach Rob Stramp.
The format puts a damper on having to face the same ace in each of the teams’ two meetings.
Regardless of how the teams face each other, Keller has proven a problem for everyone thus far in district play.
“It hasn’t been easy, and we’ve had a lot of close games and we’ve been behind,” Stramp explained. “It hasn’t been a cake walk by any means but I’m really pleased with the players stepping up to the challenge when we needed a hit or needed someone to come in to pitch. It’s been a good team effort so far.”
The key for Keller has been balance, as Stramp said he doesn’t feel the Indians have dominant pitching but has good depth, good defense and team chemistry.
Timely hits are always welcomed, too.
Offensively, the Indians are strong and have had a good run of good hitting the last several years.
But good pitching in the district has its own challenges for the Keller hitters.
“We’re able to generate runs and get just enough,” Stramp said.
With six district games remaining, the strongest series may come from Fossil Ridge, which is sitting at 4-4 and in fourth place heading into the week.
Ridge split with Ryan last week but has to take on Central this week. The Panthers’ Justin Gordon remains hot at the plate, hitting over .500.
Central is 3-5, but could make up some ground with wins over the Panthers this week. Dylan Cure is hitting over .450 for the Chargers.
Timber Creek is tied with Central with an identical district record and has Northwest this week.
The Falcons have already faced Keller and Byron Nelson, so their remaining schedule includes the Texans, Guyer and Central. They have one of the standout pitching duos in Isaac Schlabach and Ryan VanLeeuwen.
The bi-district round for the four teams fortunate enough to qualify for the playoffs will match up with District 6-6A. That district includes Flower Mound, Marcus, Hebron and Plano West. Flower Mound is tagged as the top 6A team in the state.
“We have to take care of business first in our district,” commented Stramp, “with an eye on the other district.”