• December 19, 2014

After impressive start, Cove baseballers trying to break out of slump

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Posted: Tuesday, April 1, 2014 11:59 pm

Dusty Brittain’s approach is simple. 

With his team suffering through a four-game losing streak into Thursday’s first-half finale of District 8-5A play, the Copperas Cove head coach sees no reason to dwell on the past. He merely wants his players to move on.

“What I preach to them, and the coaching staff as well, is we’ve got to go back to work,” Brittain said. “These guys that are frustrated with themselves or guys who are struggling offensively or whatever the case may be, there is nothing else to do except go and work your way out of that slump.”

After jumping out to a 9-3-1 record, surpassing the 2013 win total of five games within the first 10 days of the season, the Bulldawgs are struggling for the first time this year.

On the heels of winning six consecutive games, including a 2-0 start to district, Cove’s knack for timely plays has disappeared.

Brittain, however, is not overly concerned with the recent outcomes.

“I really don’t think we’ve played bad in any of those games,” he said. “We just haven’t been able to come through with that big inning or that big spurt offensively that has propelled us. I thought our pitching has done well and we’ve played pretty good defense, so we just have to come through.

“But we’ve got to give credit to those teams, they stepped up and scored when they needed to, and we’ve got to be able to do the same.”

Copperas Cove (9-7-1, 2-4) started its skid with a pair of lopsided losses, falling to Waco Midway and Belton by a combined score of 18-3, but lost each of its previous two games by two runs and, all things considered, Brittain feels the last loss was a victory of sorts.

After heavy rains swept through the area Friday, the Bulldawgs were forced to relocate their game against Temple due to poor field conditions.

Despite suddenly finding itself competing on the Wildcats’ home field, Cove held an early two-run lead, but Temple scored the tying run in the fourth inning before posting a two-run fifth inning en route to a 4-2 victory.

“When you have to move a game last minute like that, it has an affect,” Brittain said. “I told the guys that we could either use it as an excuse or use it as an opportunity. I don’t think we used it as an excuse by any means.”

Nevertheless, the Bulldawgs are still searching for a solution.

With statewide testing occurring Tuesday, Copperas Cove will play three games in six days, starting with back-to-back games on Thursday and Friday. The Bulldawgs begin the stretch at Harker Heights before making a quick turnaround to host Killeen.

“Everybody gets to bite that same bullet of playing Thursday, Friday and Tuesday,” Brittain said. “Pitching is going to be important, but I just think if we do what we can do offensively, I think our pitching and defense will keep us in games.”

While Brittain refuses to view the contest against the Knights as a must-win situation, he understands his team must find a way to get back on track, and his approach to doing so is simple.

“As bad as things have gone for us in close games, we still have an opportunity to finish the first round of district in the last playoff spot,” Brittain said. “We still have a lot of opportunities to finish strong, but it is just going to be a matter of tightening the old belt and going.”

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