Keller’s softball team moves on to the regional quarterfinal playoffs, but not after facing adversity and showing they may have what it takes to get to the state tournament.
The Lady Indians dropped the first game of the best-of-three series to El Paso Montwood in the area round last week, 5-4, before coming back and taking the next two games in order to advance.
Keller will face Lubbock Coronado this Friday and Saturday in another best-of-three series. The location was yet to be finalized at the press deadline, but both sides were looking at Abilene Christian University as a possible locale.
The season was three outs away from concluding for Keller, as Montwood had scored five runs in the top of the seventh inning to take a 9-7 lead in game two.
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Kaylee Grant, Grace Srichantra, Camryn Woodall and Kaitlyn Alderink all got on the bases to score two runs and tie the score.
Shelby Henderson then knocked in the walk-off run to grab a 10-9 win and force a third and deciding game three.
“That (second) game was extremely nerve-racking going into the last inning,” Alderink said.
Game 3 was a 9-4 win for Keller and will push the Indians into the next round.
Keller had two home runs in the series finale from Katie Dietrich and Srichantra.
“We had seen the pitcher in game one,” Alderink said of the Game 3 pitcher for Montwood. “We had her timed well and we were hitting as a team. We definitely hit a lot better off her the second time than the first,” she said.
Keller head coach Bryan Poehler told his team they knew what Montwood’s game plan was for the third game and they knew where the ball was going to be.
“We hit the ball well and had the lead the entire game,” Poehler said of the near-season-ending second game. “We had a 7-4 lead and they had a five-run inning and the wheels tried to fall off,” he said.
“If there’s anything I love about this team, it’s that they find a way to win,” Poehler said.
One adjustment Poehler made for game three was inserting freshman pinch-hitter Dietrich into the lineup. The decision was a good one, as she went 4-for-4 and had the home run and a double.
Poehler didn’t feel overcoming adversity was necessarily a benefit to making a run deep into the postseason.
“It’ll be that way all the way,” Poehler said. “When you get to these rounds, they can all hit the ball, they all have someone that can pitch well. It comes down to who doesn’t make mistakes. Eliminating mistakes will be the focus this week.”
As the Lady Indians prepare for this week, Alderink said they know the Coronado pitcher is known for speed and rise balls.
“We need to work on getting used to speed and being selective at the plate and not just going for the rise balls,” Alderink said.