KRUM — Krum coach Stacey Lucas likely will never entertain the idea of pulling starting pitcher Kaycee Koiner, no matter how bleak the situation may be or what is on the line.
That included Tuesday’s playoff seeding game against Gainesville, when the Lady Leopards scored four runs in an all-around ugly sixth inning to trim Krum’s lead to three. Lucas had stuck with her ace all year and not only felt like she had more left in the tank, but also felt Koiner wasn’t entirely to blame.
Koiner fought out of that jam and awarded her coach’s faith with a 1-2-3 seventh inning for an 11-5 win that gave Krum (17-12) the second seed out of District 9-3A while dropping Gainesville (15-12) to the third seed.
Krum will play Argyle (13-16) in a best-of-three bi-district series beginning at 7 p.m. Thursday at Denton. Game 2 is slated for the same time Friday while Game 3, if needed, will be 10 a.m. Saturday.
“She [Koiner] is a competitor and always works herself out of those situations,” Lucas said. “To her credit, we had errors and we gave them [Gainesville] that inning. She has gotten it done on the mound all year. There is no relief for her, and she knows it.”
With the exception of that one inning, Koiner was practically untouchable. She recorded five of her six strikeouts over the first three innings, and by the end of the fifth had allowed just three hits and one run. She was equally stout at the plate and finished the game 2-for-3 with a double and solo home run. Her homer to center field in the bottom of the fifth gave the Lady Bobcats an 8-1 lead.
Koiner only gave up one hit — an RBI single by Hannah Gerken — in the sixth, but she started the inning by hitting the first batter she faced. She walked a batter and hit another with one out to load the bases. A wild pitch and subsequent defensive error cut the Krum lead to five. Gerken then drove in the third run of the inning before Gainesville scratched out one more and trailed 8-5.
“That’s what happens in softball sometimes,” Koiner said. “I was more frustrated with myself because I knew what I was doing wrong but I couldn’t correct it at the time. I had faith in my teammates, though.”
Rosa Rodriguez and Ashley Landry led off the bottom of the sixth for Krum with back-to-back singles. Two batters later and with a runner on third, Kaely Whatley drove in a run with a sacrifice fly. Mikayla Woods then tripled to push the Krum lead to 10-5 before the team scratched out another run off an error.
“This was huge for us,” Lucas said. “We’d much rather be in this position [seeded second], and I think the series with Argyle is going to be very competitive. They [Argyle] are good, but we are just as good as they are. I like our chances.”
Krum 11, Gainesville 5
WP — Kaycee Koiner. LP — Mary Gerken. HR — K: Kaycee Koiner. 3B — K: Mailey Harris. 2B — K: Kaycee Koiner. Records — Gainesville 15-12; Krum 17-12.