It was a tough road, but the Keller softball team finished off Mansfield in two games to advance to the regional quarterfinals this week.
The Lady Indians dodged bullets and raindrops in the Mansfield series, beating the Lady Tigers 2-0 and 10-8 in eight innings.
The final out of the deciding game was on a throw-out at the plate by Keller.
The games were played at UT Arlington and then at Mansfield Legacy due to other priorities at the UTA campus.
Keller will now face Flower Mound in the third round.
Keller head coach Bryan Poehler said he has continually been impressed with his team’s ability to perform when needed.
“The big thing in the second game with Mansfield was our ability to score with two outs,” Poehler said. “It didn’t matter to them, when it was time to execute, they executed. Someone’s always stepped up. That’s the thing I’ve been most impressed with.”
Kaylee Rogers, the Keller junior pitcher, also remains effective as the season goes on. “Kaylee’s been doing what she’s been doing,” Poehler said, noting that her confidence continues to grow.
Rogers, for example, remained unshaken when Mansfield loaded the bases with no outs. She registered a strikeout and then got hitters to pop up and then ground out to thwart the Lady Tigers’ attack.
“She knows she can take care of it or the defense can take care of it,” Poehler said of Rogers.
Some of the defense which has given Rogers reason to feel confident has come from left field with freshman Kasey Simpson and at short in senior Kaitlyn Alderink.
“Kaitlyn has been the rock,” Poehler said. “She has stepped up time and time again. Defensively, she’s made diving catches and also had key hits for us. She’s put the ball in play to score runners and hit doubles and a triple in the Mansfield series. She’s making things happen.”
Simpson’s play was also noted, in addition to being the outfielder to deliver the 190- to 200-foot throw to the plate to cut down the Mansfield runner and end the game.
Looking ahead is a look back. Keller scrimmaged Flower Mound in the very first pre-season exercise of the season.
“They’ve got a fantastic team and they hit the ball really well,” Poehler said.
Although the Lady Jaguars lost their starting pitcher earlier in the season, they have a sophomore who has taken the lead in the circle.
“It’s going to be a battle for us,” Poehler said. “Both teams will have their hands full.”
The details for the matchup with Flower Mound were not set until after the press deadline, but the teams will be looking for a dry facility. See www.dfwvarsity.com for updates.
“It’s wet everywhere, but everyone’s in the same boat,” Poehler said. With continued forecasts of rain this week, both teams may need a boat.