The players decided how they were going to play and then went on to accomplish great things.
That’s how Keller’s baseball team set its sights after starting the district schedule at 1-2 and ended the season bowing out in the Region I semifinals.
The Indians captured the district title along the way.
It was after the Indians almost went 1-3 in district play that the players set their minds on turning things around and made it happen, said head coach Rob Stramp.
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“It was a gratifying district championship,” Stramp said, “and it was due to their consistency. They decided how they wer going to play and stuck with it. The team chemistry was very strong and it carried us.”
After the second district loss, Keller won eight straight games. They lost just once more, to Fossil Ridge, before completing the season as 5-6A champions.
“That is a great accomplishment due to so many talented teams,” Stramp said of the district title.
“It was definitely disappointing,” Stramp said of not making it to the state tournament, “but on the other hand, the team accomplished more than anyone would have anticipated. We replaced a whole pitching staff and had quite a few young players.”
Stramp noted that Hunter Seay was the only pitcher who had thrown in a varsity game coming into this season, and his experience was just a few innings in a playoff game.
Yet, pitching turned out to be a team strength.
“We were not a great offensive team, which may have bitten us in the end,” Stramp added.
“When you get to Game 3, the better offensive team will win out,” he added.
Keller lost the playoff series to Amarillo, 2-1, after picking up the win in Game 1.
The inability to string together hits proved the undoing for the Indians against Amarillo.
After winning 4-3 in Game 1, Keller dropped Game 2, 4-3 and Game 3, 3-0.
“It got dicey because the team that wins Game 2 has a lot of momentum going into Game 3,” Stramp said.
Games 2 and 3 were both played on Saturday with just a half hour or so in between. “I’ve been on both ends of it. It’s also disappointing because you feel like you’re good enough to advance and get to Austin,” Stramp said.
As it is, Keller won seven playoff games during its run.
Keller swept Plano, Colleyville Heritage and Hebron ahead of the opening game win against Amarillo.
“Amarillo turned out to be a very balanced team. They were a real physical group and didn’t give anything away. Defensively, they really surprised me. You expect a high school team to make some mistakes and they didn’t,” Stramp said.
Amarillo went on to face Midland Lee in the regional finals – a team which got past Coppell – in the other regional semifinals.
“I couldn’t be more proud of what they accomplished,” Stramp added. “We had a really great run. I’m very blessed to have that group.”
Keller will graduate 14 seniors and produce the biggest turnover in Stramp’s teams. “It will be one of youngest teams we’ve had,” he said going into next season. “But we look forward to the challenge.”
Among those moving on are four-year players Shea Langeliers, Seay and Brady Lindsly.