Lady Dawgs clinch playoffs with wins over Lady Knights, Roos
By TJ MAXWELL
The Copperas Cove Lady Dawgs survived a slugfest in a rain-delayed contest Monday against the Harker Heights Lady Knights to put themselves one step closer to a playoff berth and locked in that berth with a 7-3 win at Killeen on Tuesday.
“We just weren’t on defensively,” Cove head coach Bryan Waller said after the 15-14 win. “We had a rough night (defensively), but we got the hits when we needed to get them. Jayda (Carter) stepped up and got us going and Kristen (Wasiak) really got us there with that tying three-run shot.
Knotted 4-4 after last Friday’s contest between the Lady Dawgs and Lady Knights was postponed due to inclement weather, the Lady Dawgs needed a win to keep their fourth-place spot on Monday in the continuation.
Cove junior Kristen Wasiak helped that goal with a three-run home run to knot the game at 11-all before a two-out rally in the bottom of the sixth gave Cove back the lead and a catch near the fence by Wasiak closed out the 15-14 win.
“It feels really good to contribute to this win, but if it wasn’t for Maria and McKenna getting hits, it wouldn’t have tied the game,” said Wasiak. “I think it was just a chain reaction. It definitely put us back in the game. It felt pretty good.”
The Lady Dawgs took back control, 5-4, in the bottom of the third inning on a solo home run junior by Jayda Carter before the Lady Knights took advantage of a Cove miscue in the top of the fourth to retake the lead at 7-5.
A single by Heights’ Kiara Tuncap and an error that allowed Jaylen Swiney to reach put two runners and Lindsey Ratcliffe took advantage with a two-RBI double. Ratcliffe was then knocked home on a Marissa Stillwell single for the 7-5 score.
The Lady Dawgs regained the lead, 8-7, with a three-run bottom half of the inning.
A lead-off solo home run by Maria Hanna got the scoring started before singles by Wasiak and Carter put runners on. Carter would eventually score on an errant throw and Wasiak scored on a passed ball for the 8-7 lead.
The Lady Knights answered in grand fashion…literally. A grand slam by Swiney gave the Lady Knights an 11-8 lead in the top of the fifth. Powell reached on a lead-off single while Val Cosme reached on a fielder’s choice and Mary Garrison reached on an error to fill the bases for Swiney.
“We kind of got down after (Swiney) hit that home run,” said Wasiak. “Who wouldn’t get a little bit down but, I think once we started hitting, the momentum picked up and we just took it from there.”
In the bottom half of the inning, two-out singles by Hanna and McKenna Miller put runners for the Wasiak home run over the left field fence.
“She’s the lead-off batter so she’s the catalyst,” said Waller. “She gets it going. She has freedom to survey the defense and lay a bunt down or hit the ball. She waited for a pitch and she got a hold of one.”
The lead flipped once again in the top of the fifth inning when Divinity Merrick scored on an error off the bat of Cosme for the 12-11 lead. Merrick connected on a lead-off double to reach before getting knocked into scoring position by a Powell single.
The Lady Dawgs responded with a lead-off single by Carter followed by an RBI double by Alina Salazar and an RBI single by Maddie Scribner to retake the lead. Hanna then added two more runs with a two-RBI single to right field that scored Scribner and Nazhoni Wyss, who reached on a walk.
“We took advantage of a different pitcher coming in that last hitting,” said Waller. “She put the ball in the hitter’s zones and they hit the ball hard. I’m really proud of the effort and how they competed.”
A lead-off single by Stillwell and a walk by Sophie Young put the tying run at the plate for Heights in the top of the seventh inning before Stillwell scored on an error to pull within two runs, 15-13.
An RBI single by Cosme then cut the lead to one before a walk by Garrison put the winning run aboard for Swiney but a fly out to deep centerfield ended the contest.
Wasiak finished the night 3 for 5 with two runs and four RBIs and Carter was 4 for 4 with four runs and an RBI to lead the Lady Dawgs. Hanna (3 for 4, 2R, 2RBI), Salazar (2 for 3, 2R, 2RBI, BB), Scribner (1 for 4, R, RBI), Brooke Schmidt (1 for 4, R, RBI), Wyss (1 for 2, R, RBI, BB), and Miller (1 for 4, R) also contributed to the 16 Cove hits.
“I think this game kind of prepared us for anything,” said Wasiak. “Now we know that, if we’re down, we just have to fight harder.”
Schmidt picked up the win in the circle for Cove. She allowed 14 runs (five earned) on 16 hits while striking out eight and walking three.
Cosme was 3 for 6 with three runs and four RBIs while Swiney was 2 for 5 with two runs, four RBIs and a walk and Ratcliffe was 2 for 5 with a run and three RBIs to lead the Lady Knights.
Laney Salcido suffered the loss for the Lady Knights. She allowed four earned runs on five hits in one inning of relief. Ashley Palma got the start. She finished with 11 runs (nine earned) on 11 hits while surrendering three home runs in five innings of action.
The Lady Dawgs then clinched the fourth spot in the playoffs the next afternoon with a 7-3 win over the Lady Roos.
A solo home run by Wyss gave Cove a 1-0 lead in the second inning before three more runs by the Lady Dawgs on shots by Salazar and Scribner made it a 4-1 contest after an error allowed a Killeen score in the bottom of the inning.
The Lady Dawgs added to their lead in the fourth inning before a two-run double by Killeen’s Allison Fox made the final score of 7-3.
Wyss led the Lady Dawgs with a 3 for 3 outing from the plate and Schmidt earned her second win in as many days from the circle. She allowed just two earned runs on five hits while fanning 10.
The Lady Dawgs (8-5 in District 8-6A) will conclude the regular season with a road contest at Belton tonight. They are battling for the final two spots with San Angelo Central (8-5), who host Shoemaker tonight. The Lady Dawgs will face District 7-6A champs Duncanville (20-1-1, 14-0) in the opening round of the playoffs to be held April 27-28.