By TJ MAXWELL
After falling to Midway to open up District 8-6A play, the Lady Dawgs’s softball team reeled off four-consecutive wins to earn head coach Bryan Waller his 300th career win and give them a 4-1 district record heading into tonight’s road contest with Killeen.
The Lady Dawgs defeated Harker Heights 4-3 at home on Tuesday before pounding out 10 runs on nine hits to down Shoemaker on Wednesday at etch Waller’s name into the 300 Club.
The Lady Dawgs spotted the Lady Wolves two runs in the top of the first inning before outscoring them 10-1 for the rest of the contest to earn the 10-3 win in seven innings.
“It was a slow start and that’s something that we’ve got to work on to make sure we come out on all cylinders as best we can,” said Waller. “I’m proud of the offensive effort. They stuck with it and people came up with some clutch hits.”
The Lady Dawgs got production from throughout the lineup, scoring in every inning except the second in the lopsided 10-3 victory.
Waller knows that with teams like Midway and Belton looming, his team needs to pick up those close game, especially at home.
“It’s extremely important,” he said. “Shoemaker keeps improving each and every year and coach (Steve) Maddox does a great job with those girls over there. They came out fired up and aggressive. They put pressure on us but thankfully we responded the way we needed to.”
Shoemaker’s Makayla Scoggin earned a walk before using a couple mishandled pitched to advance home on a called third strike to get the scoring started.
Celeste Rangel, who a perfect 3 for 3 on the day for Shoemaker, then knocked home pitcher Heather Casiano on a single to shallow centerfield. Another single to shallow centerfield by Samo Blackwell juiced the bases but Cove pitcher Elana Montanez struck out Shoemaker’s Taylor Askew to end the threat and stand three runners.
The Lady Dawgs quickly responded with a two-run bottom half of the inning. Montanez scored first on a fielder’s choice and throwing error that allowed to her score from second after advancing on a wild pitch.
Sophomore Jayda Carter then evened the game with one swing on a solo shot over the left-field fence.
The Lady Wolves again managed to get their leadoff batter home when Deborah Hamilton hammered a two-out triple to the wall, scoring Makaia Ellerbe from third after reaching on a walk and advancing to third on steals.
The Lady Dawgs then began to slowly pull away over the next the four innings after going three up, three down in the bottom of the second.
A single by Rylie Radigan to shallow left field and a stolen base put a runner in scoring position and a double to right centerfield by Montanez knocked her home. Montanez then advanced to third on a stolen base before racing home on a wild pitch to give the Lady Dawgs the lead for good, 4-3.
The leadoff batter for Cove scored again in the bottom of the fourth when senior Peyton Choate, who reached on a walk, was knocked home on an RBI double to centerfield by Radigan for the 5-3 Cove lead.
After the second-consecutive three up, three down inning for the Lady Wolves, Cove added to their lead when senior Riley Collier scored on a fielder’s choice and Carter scored on a sacrifice fly to left field by Addie Cook. Collier reached on an error and Carter reached on a free base.
The Lady Dawgs then broke the game open with a three-run bottom of the sixth inning.
A single to deep left field by Radigan led off the inning before a bunt by Kristin Wasiak put runners on and a passed ball put them in scoring position. An RBI single by Carter knocked home Radigan before freshman Jackie Clay’s double to left field cleared the base paths for a 10-3 Cove lead heading into the final frame where they retired the side in order to clinch the win.
Waller knows it wasn’t a flawless game but likes what he saw.
“As long as they learn from what they do – good and bad – that’s all I can ask of them,” he said. “As long as we’re getting better every day, evaluate our processes and make strives to get better; that’s all I can ask.”
Montanez and the Lady Dawgs’ defense held the Lady Wolves to just one hit in the final four innings. She surrendered three runs, one earned, on seven hits while striking out 10 batters and walking two.
Riley Radigan was 3 for 3 with an RBI and two runs to lead the Lady Dawgs. Carter added 2 for 2 hitting with two walks, two RBIs and three runs scored while Montanez added 2 for 3 hitting with a walk, an RBI and two runs. Clay (1 for 3, 2RBI, BB), Choate (1 for 3, R, BB) and Wasiak (1 for 4, R) also contributed offensively for the Lady Dawgs.
Rangel was 3 for 3 with an RBI and Hamilton was 2 for 3 with an RBI triple to lead the Lady Wolves.
Waller hopes to keep the win-streak going tonight at Killeen.
“It’s going to be a hard-fought game,” he said. “It’s not easy to play over there in Killeen but we are going to go give it our best shot. Our goal is to come away with the win.”
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