A rule-of-thumb for the stronger team in the playoffs, when able, is to make your opponent prove they're more than a one-game wonder.
Go with a best-of-three series as the cream will often rise to the top.
If only winning a coin flip was that easy for Keller's softball team.
Granted the Indians are the back-to-back 6A state champs, so it's often the other team hoping for some sort of break. But, still, they can't seem to get their opponent into a three-game series.
Keller is 31-2-1 overall but 0-5 when it comes to coin flips and/or calling even or odds to determine the length of a playoff series this postseason. Five rounds of playoffs and they’ve all been one-game, winner-take-all games.
But the results aren’t anything they’re concerned about as they prepare to take on Plano on Friday at 7 p.m. at Denton Ryan in a regional final. The winner heads to the state tournament next week.
“We’ve pushed for three-game series,” head coach Christina Gwyn said. “We’ve gone with several different methods to win the coin toss or zip code. But whatever we are doing, it seems to be working for us so far.”
They’ve lost either a coin flip or picking zip codes against all five playoff opponents.
‘Picking zip codes’ is a lesser-known method to determine which team gets their choice. It’s common when the two teams are far apart and a face-to-face coin flip isn’t feasible.
A team representative selects a random city – with a single zip code – from the Clell Wade Coaches Directory. The opponent immediately has to call even or odd.
The winner is determined by whether that zip code is an even or odd number.
For Keller, they lost coin flips to Arlington Martin, Mansfield and Plano. They missed on zip code picks with Wolfforth Frenship and Wylie.
Gwyn has been absolved from taking the blame for the five swings and misses.
Before he departs in June to retirement, athletic director Bob DeJonge has been making the calls.
“At least the girls are overcoming our failures,” DeJonge said.
When it comes to 50/50 picks, DeJonge doesn’t overthink it, but said that some school representatives just always go with heads, some always with tails.
“Some, believe it or not, research your tendencies from previous rounds or even years,” DeJonge said. “Either way, you’ve still got to play the game.”
Teams taking on Keller in the playoffs have tried to get their players and supporters to subscribe that their one game trap puts the pressure on the defending champs.
“We have to show up whether it’s one game or best-of-three,” Gwyn said. “I tell my girls to give everything one pitch at a time.”
That pressure is on each team, Gwyn said, regardless of the series format.
“Both teams have the same thing on the line. One mental mistake, one run,” can make the difference, she said.
The Lady Indians didn’t have any one-game series all of last year’s playoffs.
And, the comfort level in playing just a single game to advance may pay dividends should Keller get past Plano on Friday.
The state softball tournament is set up to be just a single game each in the semifinals and finals.
For that reason alone, some softball coaches have advocated for a mandatory, single game series throughout the playoffs.
“We’re just controlling what we can control,” Gwyn added. “There’s more of a focus on ourselves to get better. At the end of the day, it all works out for a reason.”