In his first season with the team, Bryan Waller is looking to build on last year’s success.
After suffering through a four-year playoff drought, Copperas Cove’s softball program returned to the postseason last year, falling in the bi-district round under former head coach Shelly Hayes.
Now, with Waller at the helm, the Lady Bulldawgs are in the thick of the playoff race once again, sitting in fourth place in the District 8-5A standings following a 3-0 loss at home to Temple on Tuesday.
Copperas Cove (11-11, 3-3) concludes the first half of its district schedule tonight at Harker Heights.
Following the loss to the Tem-Cats, Waller talked with the Herald’s Clay Whittington.
I know it wasn’t the outcome you wanted, but how did you feel the girls played?
We are not pleased with the outcome, but we told them that in our opinion as a coaching staff, this was their best effort, best game as a group.
We took good cuts, but we just didn’t make contact enough times. We didn’t put the ball in play enough to make them make a play.
At times, we put the ball in play, and we had a couple little slap, base hits and grounders, and Temple bobbled a few balls too, just like we did.
The point I tried to make with the girls is they are just like us. When they play defense, they are going to make mistakes.
We’ve got to be able to hit the ball against all the top teams in our district if we want to achieve our goal of going further in the playoffs than we did last year.
Were they pretty receptive to your message?
Yeah, they believe in themselves. What I’m trying to get through to them is that they’ve got to want it so much more than anything on this earth that they find that next level that is in them because they haven’t been pushed that hard at times. They need to push harder.
I’m trying to get this program built up, built strong and make it dominant just like the other programs at this school. To do that, they’ve got to push themselves beyond exhaustion, beyond their limits, and it is up to them to want to do that.
Defensively, how did you feel they played?
I thought they played really good defensively.
Carlee Duran pitched a heck of a game. Her ball was moving, and she was making them go fish and stuff like that.
Against these top teams, we’ve got to play as flawless as possible. We did have some miscues out there that led to a couple of unearned runs, and those will be addressed and those will get taken care of.
They’ve just got to push on the mental side of it. That is the whole key. They have to mentally know that they can get those balls, and they can make those throws. They have to have total confidence in themselves.
What kind of a game are you expecting against Harker Heights?
They are solid. We played them in the Georgetown East View tournament, and we came out on top in that game, but they are going to scrap and fight.
They have girls over there that know how to play this game, and we are not going to go over there thinking it is going to be a surefire win. We’ve got to go up there and work hard. We’ve got to hit the ball, put the ball in play and play great defense behind us.
After Friday, you will be in the second half of district. What has to happen for you to make a strong run to finish the regular season?
Our second-half plan is to stay strong against those teams that we feel sure we can definitely play with. Then, we will go up there and know we have one chance against Midway, one chance against Belton and one chance against Temple. That is their chance to make it happen, and that is what we talked about.
We’ve got this one opportunity to make a great moment happen. So, that is our goal.