Lady Dawgs Softball off to hot start
By TJ MAXWELL
Copperas Cove head softball coach Bryan Waller is excited to be back on the diamond, especially with their solid 6-1 start after a turbulent year of Covid.
“It feels good to be out here, especially back at home,” said Waller. “It’s amazing to be back mon the field. It’s what we’ve been wanting. We’ve been having to deal with ‘Snovid’ and stuff like that as well. These girls have been playing hard, practicing hard and working hard no matter where we have to go practice. They’ve been hungry to get out here and their hungriness is paying off.”
After outscoring their opponents 41-6 on their way to an undefeated title at the Llano Tournament, the Copperas Cove Lady Dawgs softball team showed their resilience in a 7-4 come-from-behind win over Waco University in the home opener Tuesday night at Lady Dawg Field.
“They’re a good-hitting team and that’s why I was happy to be able to get this game scheduled,” Waller said of the win over Waco University. “We bided our time, then Brooke came in and got them momentum going. Lu (Robison) was hitting her spots, they were just making good contact. Then we came in as a group, got them momentum, and we didn’t let go of it.”
Trailing 4-2 in the bottom of the fifth inning, third baseman Larissa Perez connected on a three-run home run that changed the complexion of the game.
Meagan Hunt hit a leadoff single to left field to put one runner on followed by another single by relief pitcher Brooke Schmit when Perez connected for the three-run shot to left-center field on a 2-0 count and flipped the lead to Cove 5-4.
The Lady Dawgs added two more security runs in the bottom of the sixth inning when a single by JoJo Hair and a double off the centerfield fence by Emma Wasiak put two runners. After Hair was put out attempting to steal second, Hunt connected on her second-consecutive single to drive home Wasiak for the 6-4 Cove lead.
Perez then added her fourth RBI of the game when she grounded out to third base, allowing Hunt to score on the throw to first after advancing to third on an error and a wild pitch.
Schmit then secured the 7-4 victory by sitting down six of the next seven batters faced.
The Lady Dawgs got in some early trouble as a leadoff double by Aziyah Florez resulted in a run after an error on a bunt attempt allowed Makayla Ramos to reach and Florez to score.
The Lady Dawgs then squared the contest in the bottom half of the inning when Schmit connected on an RBI double scoring Wasiak who reached on a leadoff single before a pair of strikeouts by University pitcher Daniella Ramirez closed out the inning.
The Lady Trojans threatened again in the top of the top of the second inning but Cove starting pitcher Lynsey Robison induced a pop out to get out of trouble.
The Lady Dawgs also threatened in the second but left all three runners stranded.
A solo home run by Ramirez again gave University a one-run lead in the top of the third inning and the Lady Trojans added two more runs after sitting down the Lady Dawgs in order in the bottom of the third.
A pair of errors on a leadoff pop fly and a line drive allowed two runners on and one to score for University before an RBI groundout by Aubrey Garcia made it a 4-1 University lead in the top of the fourth.
The Lady Dawgs got one of those runs back in the bottom half of the inning with Hair singling to left field, scoring Salazar who doubled to centerfield to lead off the inning.
“We were taking good cuts, we just weren’t making solid contact,” Waller said of the early innings. “We knew what their pitcher was doing - throwing on the outside and we got a couple good hits on it – but we just couldn’t put enough together.”
Schmit allowed a pair of singles in the top of the fourth before putting out 8 of 9 remaining batters. She allowed no runs on three hits while striking out three and walking none in 3 1/3 innings of relief. Robison allowed four runs (one earned) and seven hits, including a home run, while fanning one and walking one in 3 2/3 innings.
“Having Brooke and Lu is good because they compliment each other really well and they push each other to succeed,” said Waller. “They’re actually relishing the roles of being in the outfield and playing a different position. It allows them to show off their athleticism.”
The Lady Dawgs combined for 12 hits, led by senior Alina Salazar who went a perfect 3 for 3 with a double and a run scored. Perez was 1 for 4 but that one hit was the three-run, go-ahead home run. She had four RBIs and scored one run. Schmit added 2 for 3 hitting with a run, a double, an RBI and a walk followed by Hair (2 for 3, RBI), Hunt (2 for 4, 2R, 2RBI), and Wasiak (2 for 4, 2R, 2B).
Ramirez allowed five runs (four earned) on nine hits while striking out four, walking one and surrendering one home run in five innings. Serena Guardiola allowed two earned runs on three hits and a walk in one inning of relief.
Florez was 2 for 4 with a double and two runs to lead University’s batters, followed by Guardiola (2 for 4), Alyana Salazar (2 for 4), Yanijay Cruz (1 for 3, BB), Ramirez (1 for 4, R, RBI, HR), Kimberly Gonzalez (1 for 4) and Cadi Dawkins (1 for 4).
Waller credits the Lady Dawgs’ early success to their bond.
“The key to us clicking is they like each other, they play hard for each other, they want each other to succeed, and they lift each other up,” he said. “It’s all amazing.”
The Lady Dawgs played at salado yesterday and will play in the Georgetown Tournament this weekend before getting District 12-6A play started against a familiar foe at Belton on Tuesday.
“I just want to see them keep progressing at the plate, keep having good at-bats, keep making good contact, keep finding ways to get on base and produce runs, and play lockdown defense,” Waller said of tournament play.