Copperas Cove is earning respect.
In the past few years, the Lady Bulldawgs have been slowly rebuilding the program, ending a four-year postseason absence in 2013 before returning to the playoffs this year.
Although each trip ended in the first round, their reputation is finally starting to grow.
After placing only one player on last season’s 8-5A All-District First Team, Copperas Cove has five representatives on this year’s list, proving to Lady Bulldawgs head coach Bryan Waller his players’ efforts are not going unnoticed.
“We were represented rather well in the list even though it’s not where I feel some of the girls should have ended up,” he said. “Overall, to have that many voted on by the other coaches reflect the great work ethic these young ladies have put into this season.”
Copperas Cove seniors Irene Espinoza, Elliana Doubleday and Tayler Hammack, along with juniors Autumn Hughes and Carlee Duran landed on the first team after helping produce a 17-16 overall record, including a 9-5 showing in district.
Additionally, senior third baseman Destiny Henderson and junior outfielders Angel Mullen and Zhianna Johnson were each placed on the second team, while teammates Rachel Jost and Veronica Marshall, who are both juniors, received honorable mentions.
Despite being excited for all his players, Waller was especially pleased to see his seniors acknowledged. “It is always great for them to get recognized,” he said. “They have put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into these four years, especially this year. They left a great model for the others to follow.”
Right fielder Hammack was placed on the first team for a second consecutive year after producing a .455 batting average in district with 15 hits, 12 runs scored and seven RBIs.
Doubleday, a centerfielder, led the team in stolen bases (23), hits (43) and runs scored (31) for the season, recording 21 hits, 21 runs and seven RBIs during district.
“They proved how hard it was to get them out when batting and they put the ball in play,” Waller said. “And both of them made some outstanding defensive plays that got the attention of the other coaches.”
In the infield, first baseman Hughes (17 runs, 16 hits, 16 RBIs) and shortstop Espinoza (team-high 23 RBIs, 16 hits, 16 runs) were easy selections based on offensive output during district, according to Waller.
Meanwhile, pitcher Duran served as one of the Lady Bulldawgs’ most powerful weapons both offensively and defensively. Along with tying Doubleday for team-high in hits with 21 to go along with 20 RBIs, Duran went 7-4 on the mound, striking out 53 batters.
“She earned this honor by pitching outstanding against the top teams in our district,” Waller said. “And also by pitching two no-hitters against Shoemaker.”
Although the Lady Bulldawgs will be losing some key players to graduation, Waller believes the program is poised for another strong showing in 2015 and views the all-district accolades as motivation for his returning players.
“I feel it shows them how much respect they have earned from the other coaches, but also that they can still improve,” he said. “It would be great for one of these returning girls to end up earning one of the superlatives next season, and these returning girls have the ability to do so.”
Contact Clay Whittington at email@example.com