Fossil Ridge and Keller each lost their final regular season games, but still move forward into the baseball postseason this week.
Ridge goes in as the district’s second seed, while Keller takes the final spot.
The Panthers will take on Weatherford in a one-game, winner-take-all round on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Quik Trip Park in Grand Prairie, while the Indians draw Arlington Martin. Keller’s best-of-three series starts on Thursday at Martin and then at Keller on Friday, with both games starting at 7:30 p.m. If a third game is needed, it will be played at 4 p.m. Saturday at Quik Trip.
Weatherford, District 3-5A’s third seed, in the position of desperation against the talented Panthers, wanted the one-game format, while Ridge preferred a best-of-three series.
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The Kangaroos won the coin toss and selected the easier option for an underdog.
“They’ve got a kid that throws really hard,” said Fossil Ridge head coach Doug Delany of Weatherford’s single-threat pitcher who has speed on his side. “We’ve got guys that can handle velocity. We know what we’re going to get and that’s what we’ll prepare for.”
The Panthers will put top pitcher Kenniel Rivera on the mound for the bi-district game.
Ridge is coming off a final week of the regular season which left them in the second place spot after losing to Carroll on Tuesday and Timber Creek on Friday.
“Tuesday wasn’t what we wanted,” Delany said of the loss which granted the district title to the Dragons. “It was senior night and we did some good things but they made every play. We got into a few double plays, but you kind of have to have a short memory and move on,” Delany said.
The Friday loss to Timber Creek is all but forgotten, too.
“Had we won Friday, we’d still be where we’re at,” Delany explained. “If we win Thursday, we won’t remember that. At this point in time, it doesn’t matter.”
Delany said that if he had been offered the second seed at the beginning of the year, he’d have taken it without discussion.
With a win over Weatherford, Fossil Ridge would take on the winner of El Paso Americas and Amarillo Tascosa. And Delany likes his Panthers’ chances to make that happen.
“We’re a senior-laden team and they don’t want the season to end. We’re fired up to play,” he said.
Keller had much the same mindset.
“The goal is to get to the playoffs,” said Keller head coach Rob Stramp. “Obviously, that’s our primary goal and we would’ve liked to finish third, but it’s not significant. We started to play good baseball and have been fortunate to be able to do what we did,” Stramp said, noting the Indians started off 3-5 in the first round of district play.
The Indians have played five extra inning games in the second half and won four.
The most recent extra-inning game was last week’s 6-5 win over Timber Creek which pushed the Indians into the playoffs.
Even with the win over Fossil Ridge, Timber Creek saw their playoff hopes dashed after the loss to Keller.
Keller knows their work is cut out for them when facing Martin, a team which has been to the state tournament the last two years.
“We’ve beat some good teams and I feel like we’re up for the challenge,” Stramp said. “We’re not a typical fourth-seed team. We like the opportunity.”