The Keller softball team collected its third state championship by shutting out Pearland in the state title game last Saturday in Austin.
The Lady Indians were coming off an extra-inning state semifinals game, beating Humble Atascocita, 5-4, setting up the championship game.
Keller scored early and made it stand, as Kaylee Rogers pitched a four-hit shutout to help the Lady Indians win the game 5-0.
Rogers was named the game’s MVP.
Lightning had already struck in the bottom of the first inning before the title game was postponed for just over 30 minutes due to threatening weather.
Keller scored three runs in the top of the first inning and with two outs before the teams were forced to sit and wait out the passing storm.
Camryn Woodall slapped an RBI triple to score Kourtney Williams for Keller in the first inning, which would have been all Keller would need.
But as she has done all season, Shelby Henderson put an exclamation point on the inning by blasting a two-run home run to left-center.
When play resumed, so did Keller’s dominance.
Amanda Desario hit an RBI single scoring Kennedy Legg in the second inning and the run total went to 5-0 in the fourth when Mikayla McClasky knocked in Hanna Jones.
The Lady Indians put pressure on the Lady Oilers from the beginning, including aggressive base-running and putting the ball in play.
After scoring first, Keller kept the hammer down, knowing that teams capable of making it to state are capable of rallying.
“That actually was the theme,” Poehler said, “to keep pressure on and don’t let them get up.
“I feel like the girls were very confident in their abilities going into that game,” he said.
The championship season actually seemed to start after losing in the regional finals in 2015.
When Keller lost to Lewisville inGame 3 of that series, Keller head coach Bryan Poehler was already looking to fill in around the foundation of the great talent he knew was returning for this season.
What Poehler did was further develop young talent to supplement the upper classmen and returning five seniors.
Poehler can never give enough credit to his seniors – McClasky, Brittney Larkin, Roger, Henderson and Legg.
“This season was a great reward for the seniors who have worked so hard to make it to this level,” Poehler said. “I am so proud of everything they accomplished.
“They were all great leaders, great athletes, great teammates and great friends,” Poehler emphasized. “I believe it was their chemistry that helped them achieve their goal of winning state.”
Timber Creek ends standout run, but short of goal
Timber Creek ended its most successful softball season, and many felt the loss to eventual state champ Keller in the regional finals was a great achievement.
It was – except it fell short of the Lady Falcons’ goal of getting to Austin for the state tournament.
An 8-5 loss in the regional finals showed Timber Creek can play with anyone and not even an 8-1 deficit in the top of the final inning will keep the team from battling.
“We exceeded what anyone outside our program may have thought,” said Timber Creek head coach Laura Moore. “But we didn’t exceed our goal.
“We set our goals last year and our goal is to make it to Austin,” Moore said.
Timber Creek will graduate just four players: pitchers Kylee Foster and Caitlin Kneblik, shortstop Avery Grimes and third baseman Matti Davis.
Foster was outstanding on the mound and made Timber Creek a legitimate threat in every outing. Her finesse with the ball kept batters on the defensive.
The Lady Falcons will have seven seniors coming back, and Moore emphasized the goal is still the same.
“We’ll have spots to fill but we still expect to carry the high expectations of ourselves,” Moore said.
Moore said the turning point of the season was actually a 4-0 loss to Fossil Ridge.
“It did more for us than anything,” she noted. “It caused us to wake up and realize we have to play 21 outs every game. It was a humble moment when we had to refocus and put everything together.”
The season saw some of the Lady Falcons really step it up, including Davis, Madie Green and Caitlyn Curlee.
“What says a lot about the kids is what you don’t know,” Moore continued, stating that Curlee had broken her throwing hand in practice prior to the regional semifinals series with Wolfforth Frenship.
“They told her if she could take the pain, she could play,” Moore said.
Curlee hadn’t stepped into the batter’s box until the Keller game, not knowing what to expect.
Curlee turned in a 3-for-4 performance including a statement double, letting Keller know the Lady Falcons weren’t going down without a fight. She also threw out a Keller runner attempting a stolen base from her catcher position.
“She’s a battler. It’s incredible to see what she did with a broken hand,” Moore said.