Lady Dawgs stay in playoff chase with 11-9 win over Harker Heights
By TJ MAXWELL
HARKER HEIGHTS – The Copperas Cove Lady Dawgs fought off a late rally by the Harker Heights Lady Knights to secure an 11-9 win Friday night at Lady Knights Field to stay in striking distance of the fourth and final playoff spot for District 12-6A.
“It was a great start to the game,” said Copperas Cove head softball coach Bryan Waller. “We have to understand we’re at Harker Heights’ field so they’re not going to give up. They are a scrappy team and they fight to the very end.”
The Lady Dawgs took advantage of some early miscues from the Lady Knights to take a 9-0 lead after the first half inning of action.
After a lead-off walk by Kristen Wasiak, back-to-back errors by the Lady Knights allowed Rylie Radigan and Alina Salazar to reach before a double steal allowed Radigan to reach second base and Wasiak to score. Radigan advanced home on the error off the bat of Salazar.
Madalyn Scribner then connected on an RBI double to left field to score Salazar for the 3-0 Lady Dawgs’ lead.
A walk by Nazhoni Wyss and a single to centerfield by Maria Hanna put runners on for Sarina Gray who singled up the middle to score Scribner.
A walk by pitcher Brooke Schmidt, along with an RBI single by Emma Wasiak and a two-RBI double to centerfield by Kristen Wasiak scored courtesy runner Angelica Montanez and Gray and courtesy runner Terrianna Davis.
Radigan then grounded into a double-play to score Emma Wasiak for the ninth run of the inning.
The Lady Knights took three of those runs back in the bottom half of the inning.
A single by Hayley Brown put a runner on for Ja’lynn Swiney who connected on a two-run home run to left field for the 9-2 score.
A single to center field by Kaycee McDowell put another runner on and two-out singles by Evan Fuller and Madelyn Garrison drove home the third run of the inning for the Lady Knights.
The Lady Dawgs put another run on the board in the top of the third inning. Singles by Gray, Schmidt and Emma Wasiak put runners on before a line drive single to left field by Kristen Wasiak scored courtesy runner Davis.
A solo home run by McDowell to lead off the bottom of the third sparked another three-run inning for the Lady Knights.
A single by Marissa Stillwell another runner on for Harker Heights and, after being knocked around to third, she is batted home on a single to centerfield by Jenny Saylor. Saylor was then batted home on a double to left field by Sophie Young for the 10-6 score.
The Lady Knights then cut the Copperas Cove to just two runs with a run in each of the next two innings.
“They capitalized on some of our mistakes like we did in the first inning,” said Waller.
A triple to left field by Swiney put a runner in scoring position before an RBI single by McDowell made it a 10-7 game. The Lady Knights had a chance for more but a pop out by Fuller and a throw out of McDowell at home plate for a double play got Cove out of the inning.
A lead-off single by Divinity Merrick put another Lady Knights’ runner on the base paths before a walk by Young and a fielder’s choice off the bat of Lindsey Ratcliffe moved her to third and a wild pitch allowed her to score for the 10-8 score.
Scribner then added an insurance run in the top of the sixth inning on a solo home run to left field for an 11-8 lady Dawgs’ lead.
The Lady Knights cut the lead back to two, 11-9 in the bottom of the sixth inning. A walk by Swiney and a wild pitch put a runner in scoring position for the Lady Knights before a single to centerfield allowed Swiney to score.
Three consecutive strikeouts by Cove pitcher Brooke Schmidt ended the threat before both teams went three and out in the seventh inning for the 11-9 final score.
Schmidt was 3 for 3 with an RBI and a walk while Scribner was 3 for 4 with two runs and two RBIs and Kristen Wasiak was 2 for 3 with a run, a walk and three RBIs to lead the Lady Dawgs. Emma Wasiak (2 for 4, R, RBI), Gray (2 for 4, R, RBI), Hanna (1 for 4) and Wyss (1 for 3, R, BB) accounted for the rest of Cove’s 14 hits.
McDowell (4 for 4, 2R, 3RBI), Swiney (2 for 3, 3R, 2RBI, BB) and Brown (2 for 4, R) each had multiple hits to lead the Lady Knights. Stillwell (1 for 3, R, BB), Fuller (1 for 4), Garrison (1 for 2, RBI), Merrick (1 for 2, R) Saylor (1 for 2, RBI) and Young (1 for 3, RBI, BB) accounted for the rest of the Lady Knights’ 14 hits.
Schmidt picked up the win in the circle for the Lady Dawgs. She allowed nine earned runs on 14 hits while striking out seven and walking three in seven innings of work.
“Brooke pitched well against Midway,” said Waller. “We knew her location would be pivotal tonight. It’s great to have her back. The girls are confident when she’s out there. We have played great defense and we’ve done what we need to do with whoever is in the circle, but it’s good to have her back.”
Laney Salcido suffered the loss. She allowed seven runs (five earned) on three hits while striking out none and walking two before being replaced by Ashleigh Palma with no outs in the first inning. Palma allowed four earned runs on 10 hits in six innings of relief.
The Lady Dawgs (7-7 in District 12-6A) are currently a half game behind the Shoemaker Lady Wolves (8-6) for the fourth and final, who they host tonight for senior night at Lady Dawg Field. The loss eliminates Harker Heights (6-9) from the playoff chase.
“We have to start strong and keep that intensity the whole game,” said Waller. “It’s our senior night so five girls will be playing their last game on our field and we want to make it count. We have goals of making the playoffs and we don’t want this to be a disappointing season for us.”
Cove faces another must win Thursday night at Temple to close the season.