By Greg Ford
The Lady Panthers were back in the playoffs, and then they were right back out.
After clinching the No. 4 seed in District 6-6A, Plano East found itself facing top-seeded Keller (5-6A) in the first round. In two games, they were outscored 17-0 (8-0 and 9-0), something that didn’t please head coach Karen Kalhoefer, but which she hoped taught the team a good lesson.
“We came in a little gun-shy and big-eyed, I would say, in our first game,” the coach said. “We started off both games not sharp. You’ve got to play your best in the playoffs. I told the (players) coming back is that this is when you bring it. You’ve worked all season long to showcase what your ability is, and I felt we didn’t do that. Whether we won or lost, I felt we didn’t play our best.”
She added, “We can build on it. Last year, we were last (in district) and we made the playoffs this year, and that is something to build on.”
Only three seniors — Jena Konieczka, Ashley Maeder and Sharlanae Thomas — were part of the varsity roster this season; the rest being juniors or below. Kalhoefer hopes the playoff defeat leaves a bad taste in the latters’ mouths, and will use that as motivation in 2017.
“We didn’t play to our ability, but there is experience (to be gained) there,” she said. “They got a playoff series under their belt. They know that we’ve got to bring it and play a lot better.”
The coach added, “We will give them goals over the summer of what they need to do in order for them to get better and for us to get better … That is one of the things they’ve got to work on, to keep getting better. They did last summer and they’ve got to do that this summer.”
Plano East baseball
The Panthers closed out a tough season by splitting their final two games against Flower Mound, falling 4-0 to the Jaguars on Wednesday, April 27 and then closing out the regular season with a come-from-behind 8-7 home win this past Saturday.
East closed out the 2016 campaign 3-13 in District 6-6A and 5-20-2 overall.
A five-run sixth inning produced victory on Saturday for the Panthers, who got just four hits, but also benefitted from three Flower Mound errors. Luke Johnson had a hit and an RBI for the Panthers, while Brady Probasco struck out five batters in five innings of work.