10U Lady A’s stumble but stay alive in TTA State Softball Tournament

By TJ MAXWELL
Cove Leader-Press
BELTON – The Copperas Cove Lady A’s lost out on the opportunity at a perfect season with a tough 8-5 loss to Fairfield Bailey during the quarterfinals of the Texas Teen-Age 10-and-under Softball Playoffs at the Chisholm Trail Park Softball complex in Belton. The Lady A’s, however, battled hard in their final Wednesday night game to keep their spot in the tournament and earn a place in the final four. “We’ve been playing close games and starting slow every game,” said Cove A’s head coach Joseph Wasiak. “I knew that, at some point, it would catch up with us. We gave away four runs and we ended up losing by three. We came back and almost had it. We left a girl on third two times.” The Lady A’s (20-1) defeated the Axtell Pink Ladies 11-6 late Wednesday night in their first of four possible playback games in the loser’s bracket to earn a spot amongst the final four teams. Cove joins the Axtell Crushers, Fairfield Bailey, and Lovelady Lion Drive in the final four. “I told them, ‘we need to make the first inning, the best inning,’” said Wasiak. “We have a way of playing better as the game goes on, so I told them to play hard the first inning. We came out and scored three and I was real happy about that.” Cove, however, had to win fourconsecutive games with no rest in between last night if they were earn the crown – a monumental feat at best. The Lady A’s had to defeat Lovelady for the second time in the tourney at 4 p.m. before facing the team that gave them their only loss of the season, Fairfield, at 6 p.m. and the undefeated Axtell Crushers in the possible title game at 8 p.m. “Lovelady is a tough one,” said Wasiak. “We played them the other night and they are going to give us all we can handle. We stayed strong and came back to beat them after giving away early runs in that one too.” Should the A’s survive that brutal three-game stretch, they would have a rematch against Axtell at 10 p.m. in the playback championship. “This tournament is tough,” said Wasiak. “I call the bracket a meat grinder because these girls have to play at 4 p.m. and if they continue to win, they play at 6 and at 8 and again at 10. I don’t know if they can do that or not but we’re going to give it a shot. “This tournament is tough for girls. By the rules, we have until Friday to play, but they are trying to cram all of it into three days. Even if we would have won, I was still complaining about the bracket for the other teams. It’s just not right. These are girls and to put them out in these conditions for three games in a row is tough. We just tried to hang in there. I have to give them credit for coming back. I didn’t know what we were going to be like.” Game results not available at press time. Look for full results of Thursday’s games in Tuesday’s Copperas Cove Leader-Press. The Lady A’s began Wednesday with their perfect season intact but a late Tuesday night schedule, paired with blazing temperatures and a scorching Fairfield pitcher, aided them in suffering their first loss of the year. A four-run first inning for Fairfield proved to be the difference in the contest. Fairfield batted around while taking advantage of some uncharacteristic miscues by the Lady A’s to jump out to a 4-0 lead after one inning. Fairfield pitcher Caleigh Conner kept the Lady A’s bats off balance for most of the game. She struck out the side in the first inning and struck out two more in the bottom of the second after Fairfield added two more runs in the top half of the inning. “(Conner) was good and so was the catcher (Maeci Wilson),” said Wasiak. “They didn’t walk one runner and she kept the ball in front of her so we could not get to home.” The Lady A’s got one of those runs back on an in-the-park home run by Larisa Perez to cut the Fairfield lead to 6-1. The Lady A’s slowly began to chip at the Fairfield lead as they started to figure out Conner. A single by Emma Wasiak, coupled with a RBI double by Gabby Emeana and a RBI triple by Perez cut the Fairfield lead to three, 6-3. Wasiak delivered six strikeouts in nine batters faced in the third and fourth innings to help keep the Lady A’s in striking distance. Fairfield did manage one run in the fourth on an RBI single by McKina Brackens to push their lead to 7-3. After a three-up, threedown fifth inning for both squads, Fairfield added their final run when Conner advanced home on a wild pitch after walking to reach. The Lady A’s again threatened in the bottom half of the sixth with Wasiak and Emeana making contact and eventually scoring. Wasiak was knocked home by an Emeana single and Emeana scored on errant throws to cut the lead again to three, 8-5. Conner then fanned the next three Cove batters to secure the win after Perez connected on a triple. Despite suffering their first and only loss of the season, the Lady A’s quickly bounced back in their first elimination game against the Axtell Pink Ladies at 9 p.m. Tashayla Marrie and Wasiak kicked things off with a pair of base hits to put runners on for Emeana, who connected with a three-run home run to the right field fence to clear the bases and give the Lady A’s a 3-0 lead. Axtell responded with three runs in the bottom of the second inning. Errors and wild pitches by Cove aided the Pink Ladies’ efforts. The Lady A’s made up for those miscues in the top half of the third inning. Wasiak took advantage of an Axtell error to reach and Emeana connected on her second-consecutive in-thepark home run. Perez again tripled to put a runner in scoring position and eventually advanced home on an errant throw. Elizabeth “Lizard” Eakin reached on a walk before stealing second and advancing to third on the throw. Trinity Zavala knocked her home on a RBI single. A single by Axtell’s Leah Hale put a runner in scoring position in the bottom half of the inning and Meredith Short singled to bring her home for a 7-4 Cove lead after three innings. Wasiak and Emeana again connected on base hits in the top of the fourth inning and eventually scored on passed balls for a 9-4 Cove lead. Axtell cut the lead back to three in the bottom of the inning. A RBI double by Bralyn Belk that scored Riley Tucker and a RBI single by Maddie Nivin that scored Belk accounted for the runs. The Lady A’s added an insurance run in the top of the fifth when Danielle Mc- Griff reached on an error and Zavala drew a walk to put runners on for Marrie’s two RBI single. Wasiak and the Cove defense sat down the Pink Ladies in order in their final two at-bats to secure a spot in the final day of the tournament. “You’ve got to give credit to the (Pink Ladies),” said Wasiak. “They came back and they hit the ball. We scored when we had to and we shut them down when we had to. These kids are amazing.”

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