Baseball facing No. 2 state-ranked Keller in regional semifinals

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Angelina Liu

Coppell junior right-hander Will Boylan pitches against Prosper in the top of the seventh at Lake Dallas High School on May 21. Coppell faces Keller in the Class 6A Region I semifinals tomorrow at 6 p.m., Friday at 1 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m. (if needed).

Meer Mahfuz, Staff Writer

When a program comes across a top quality team in the state, it often gets overwhelmed by the potential challenges it may face. Coppell baseball, however, is not just any other team but rather a group with an underdog mentality and playoff experience of defeating a top state-ranked team. 

The Cowboys plays Keller (31-5), No. 2 in the Texas High School Baseball Coaches’ Association Class 6A state poll and the highest remaining ranked team in Texas, in the Class 6A Region I semifinal best-of-three series with Game 1 tomorrow at 6 p.m., Game 2 Friday at 1 p.m. and Game 3 Saturday at 1 p.m. (if needed). All games will be played at Denton Guyer High School. 

Coppell (30-7-1) has faced Keller twice this season, losing the first game, 6-2, on Feb. 27, and winning the second game, 11-4, on March 12.

Despite the Indians’ plethora of Division I talent, namely at least four Division I pitching signees, the Cowboys will treat Keller the same as any other opponent they’ve faced and keep their mindsets on perfecting their game plan. 

“It doesn’t matter who we play, we’re just going to keep our same mindset,” Coppell senior pitcher Tim Malone said. “They have good pitching but we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing: playing good defense and pitching strikes, we’ll scratch runs across like we did against Prosper.”

The make-or-break phase of the game is going to be if the Cowboys’ defense will be able to keep Keller’s offense at bay and keep the game close enough for the Coppell offense to scratch a lead. 

“Every team that I have, I build it from the defense up, you have to play great defense in order to win big games,” Coppell coach Ryan Howard said. “There’s less focus on who we’re playing and more focus on us and doing what we’re doing day-in and day-out to make sure that we’re putting ourselves in the best place to be successful. To get to where we want to get, you’re going to have to beat the best teams in the state anyways and we’re benefitting from playing in a great district.”

After defeating Jesuit in the area playoff the Cowboys earned much needed confidence about their chances facing the best competition in the state, which will be vital in this upcoming series against Keller.

“It’s great knowing we can beat anybody but we treat every opponent like the same,” Coppell senior left fielder Ryan Walker said. “We faced some of the best competition in the state and it’s really prepared us for [Keller] and hopefully it’ll carry us a pretty long way [in the series].”

For Malone, representing the city of Coppell at the latter stages of playoff competition with baseball is something that he’s always dreamt of doing, especially this year as the baseball team has progressed further into playoffs than the football, basketball or soccer teams.

“It means a lot to represent the city of Coppell, the baseball program has been historically good so getting back to this level of playoffs has just been phenomenal,” Malone said. 

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