Montanez home run; Choate double lead Cove past Ellison 8-7
By TJ MAXWELL
The Copperas Cove Lady Dawgs needed a spark.
Trailing 7-4 in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Lady Dawgs knew they need some offense to have a chance at ending their four-game skid and sweep the Ellison Lady Eagles at home on Friday.
Seniors Elana Montanez and Peyton Choate answered the call with two huge hits that led to a four-run rally that ended in an 8-7 come-from-behind victory.
“We needed a win,” said Copperas Cove head softball coach Bryan Waller. “We had four-straight losses. Tonight, Ellison hit the ball well early on. Their top of the lineup was getting things done. They got going on us early but I was happy to see that we stayed with things and got the win.”
Montanez, known for her dominance as a pitcher in the circle, showed she is also a force to be reckoned with at the plate with her first-ever home run that kick started the rally.
“I wanted to cry,” she said. “I’ve never hit a home run in a game in my life. That was my first one and I’m very proud of myself.
“I knew my girls needed hits so I was just trying to get a base hit. I did not know it was going over. I told myself that I wasn’t going to hit the first pitch. I was going to wait until I saw mine and I guess I saw it.”
Montanez’s efforts weren’t in vain as Kristen Wasiak reached on a single and Jayda Carter reached on a throwing error to put the tying run on the base pads for Choate.
After Carter stole second on an uncontested steal to put both runners in scoring position, Choate cleared the bases with a double up the third base line for a 7-7 tie. McKenna Miller then gave the Lady Dawgs the 8-7 lead when she advanced to third then home on passed balls as a courtesy runner for Choate.
The bases-clearing double was the third hit of the night for Choate to lead the Lady Dawgs’ bats.
“I’m just tired of being frustrated with myself because I know frustration leads to not performing,” said Choate. “I think I just relaxed a little more. I saw the ball and just took it where it needed to go.”
Head coach Bryan Waller knew it was only a matter of time for Choate.
“I’m happy for Peyton,” he said. “She works her butt off and she wants this so bad that sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves. Hopefully, these hits she had tonight will reassure her and she can build on that.”
Choate admitted the solo home run by Montanez two batters earlier gave her a spark as well.
“It got me pumped,” she said. “She’s been waiting on that too, she was way overdue for one.”
Montanez and the Lady Dawgs’ defense then shut down the Lady Eagles in the top of the seventh to secure the win.
“I know my girls always have my back. We’re not going to be the perfect team,” she said. “They are going to hits, we just have to keep in our heads to keep coming back.
“That’s all part of being a team. You can’t show fear to the other team because if they see you fold, they are going to jump on you. Our coaches always tell us, ‘if you see the other team down, keep them there and take advantage of it.”
Head coach Bryan Waller didn’t like the 6-0 hole the team put themselves in but was really proud of how they dug out.
“The main thing was they didn’t give up,” he said. “They played the best defense they could then the offense caught back up. We hit the ball hard and I was pleased to see that. We capitalized on some miscues by them and they capitalized on miscues by us. We just lasted longer than they did and we put the ball in play and finally got some innings to make things count.”
The Lady Eagles took advantage of some miscues early by the Lady Dawgs to build a 6-0 lead with two runs in each of the first three innings.
A triple by Ellison pitcher Madison Livers and a single by Kyla Kronen added two more runs for Ellison in the second inning. The Lady Eagles added more runs in the third on a bases-loaded walk by Nani Camargo and a bases-loaded single by DeShara Hardy for a 6-0 Ellison lead after three.
The Lady Dawgs slowly began to chip away at the lead when Riley Radigan tripled to lead off the bottom of the fourth and Maddie Scribner singled to left field to score Radigan for a 6-1 Ellison lead.
Choate reached base again in the bottom of the fifth on a dropped fly ball in centerfield where two more base runners crossed home plate. Choate then scored on an Addie Cook shot that ended in a throwing error for a 6-4 Ellison lead.
The Lady Eagles (8-9, 3-7 in District 8-6A) added an insurance run in the top of the sixth inning when Taren Frescatore scored for Ellison on a fielding error by Cove on the bases loaded shot by Kronen with one out.
The Cove defense then stood up to strand three Ellison runners trailing 7-4.
“We never really got down on ourselves and we had a good attitude even when we were down by six,” said Choate. “We just stayed positive and ended up coming back.”
The Lady Dawgs (13-10-1, 5-5) hope to start another win-streak when they travel to Killeen to face Shoemaker tonight.
“We just need to keep having good practices and then transition the practice to the game,” said Waller. “We just need to connect the mental aspect of the games to the physical parts of practice.”