Fury beats shorthanded Sluggers 7-0 to win 10U softball bragging rights
By TJ MAXWELL
The Cove Sluggers had already clinched their spot in the Texas Teenage Association 10-and-under Fast Pitch Softball District Tournament in Harker Heights starting on July 3 but the Fury still had to win out if they wanted to join the district field.
That’s precisely what they did.
After dropping two games to the rival Outlaws during a four-game skid to end the regular season, it looked like a downward trajectory for head coach James Harper and his Fury.
The team, however, had a different outcome in mind. The Fury earned a revenge win over the Outlaws in grand fashion, 14-1, on Monday to earn a spot in Wednesday’s championship game against the Sluggers where they came away victorious 7-0.
“I’ve coached for a while and this is the proudest I’ve ever been,” said Harper. There was doubt against us for some odd reason but the girls just kept pushing and fighting.”
Just making the championship game had been enough in previous years but Harper knew his team had to win them all if they wanted to represent Copperas Cove in the District Tournament.
“We had to win,” said Harper. “When you show up and you’re playing a team that beat you twice out of three times and then to beat them 14-1, I knew we would play well tonight. We had our backs against the wall both games because being in this game did not qualify us so we had to win.”
Harper also acknowledged that the Sluggers, being down a few players and a coach due to vacations, made that task a little easier for his Fury.
“I have to give a lot of credit to the Sluggers,” he said. “To show up with just seven girls like that and to play the way they did and not give up shows a lot of spirit.
“When parks and rec asked us if it was okay that they played with seven, we all said yes because we’re not going to let them get punished because they are missing players. Those girls wanted to play and they played hard. Coach McAdarra did a heck of a good job with those girls this year.”
McAdarra and the Sluggers earn their spot at district due to their domination of the regular season and subsequent 9-1 record.
Harper is proud to get to represent Cove alongside their Cove counterparts.
“We’re going to District together,” said Harper. “If we don’t qualify for state, they will. McAdarra has always done a great job as a coach. They’re a great team and we’re a great team. We’re going to root for them and they are going to root for us. They are our family now and we are going to go there and root for them hard.”
The game started strong for the Sluggers defensively with a pair of big tag outs at home plate but the Fury were able to get their first run across when pitcher Meagan Hunt scored on a passed ball in the top of the first inning.
The Fury added two more runs in the top of the second inning when Julia Guerra singled to reach before advancing on the base paths on a throw and stolen base before scoring on a passed ball.
Bella Bowling then earned a no out walk to put another runner on before advancing to second on a throw and to third on a steal.
A fielder’s choice off the bat of Tristyn Garcia then batted Bowling home for the 3-0 Fury advantage.
The Fury added two more runs run in the third inning. The first run came on an in-the-park home run by Hunt when her shot to shallow right field got past the first baseman and the lone outfielder for the Sluggers.
The Fury scored again when Audrey Martin reached on a walk and stole second before advancing to third and home on passed balls.
A speedy bottom half on the inning that resulted in one Hunt strikeout and two auto outs with no batters in the eight and nine holes, gave way to a dominating fourth inning in the circle that saw five of the six batters struck out.
A walk by Liberty Stein sparked the Fury offense again in the fifth inning but a strong defensive play got Stein out at home plate.
Walks by Hunt and Martin, however, led to the final two scores of the contest for the Fury.
Hunt stole second and third before advancing home on a wild pitch. Guerra then knocked Martin home on an RBI double.
Fury pitcher Hunt was two walks away from a perfect game in the win. She had nine strikeouts and two walks in 11 batters faced.
“It was a great year,” said Harper. “Everybody played well this year and they coaches did a phenomenal job. It wasn’t easy to get here. They had to earn every bit of it.”
Harper is proud of his team for their accomplishment but knows they have some work to do when the ride continues next week in Harker Heights.
“To be perfectly honest….paying attention is what we need to work on,” he said. “I told them to stop a few times and three times they ran into outs. They’ve been struggling with swinging at strikes but we’re going to get there.
“Mostly we just need to keep doing what we’re doing. Tweak some things here and there but just stick to what we’re doing because it’s obviously working.”
The district tournament times and fields to be determined.