By Nick Talbot
The Cove Herald
BELTON - Alyson Bishoff knows she should always listen to her coach.
Before the game Saturday, Belton coach Matt Blackburn told her to get to the front of the batters box because the pitches were going to be either inside or rise balls.
He was right and the move paid off for Bishoff. The sophomore first baseman hit a three-run home run in the fifth inning to lift the struggling Lady Tigers to a 5-2 win over Copperas Cove.
"We should start listening to him more," Bishoff said. "Every time I hit a home run it is because of something he said. She was pitching me rise balls and inside the whole game and this pitch she made the mistake of pitching it low and those are the ones I like and I just took it over the fence."
The homer capped off a four-run fifth that saw Belton, which has had problems with clutch hitting this season, score all four runs with two outs.
"Alyson has been hitting the ball," Blackburn said. "She had got a hit to leadoff the previous inning and we could not even move her from second. So, for her to come to the plate with people on is ideal right now."
Saturday, though, it was Copperas Cove (14-9, 2-5 12-5A) which struggled with runners on base.
In the fourth, the Lady Bulldawgs loaded the bases with one out after Destiny Henderson and Elliana Doubleday walked and Megan Martel singled. However, Kinzi Courtney hit a soft grounder back to Belton pitcher Meredith Langford, who tossed it home for the easy forceout and Carlee Duran hit a fly ball to short to end the threat.
"We played a good ball game, but when you leave (eight) runners on base it is going to make it tough," said Copperas Cove coach Jim Lowery. "That was a killer."
Cove scored in the third after a Belton (9-12, 3-4) error and an Irene Espinoza RBI single and then in the fifth off an Espinoza home run.
"There would have been one on, but their shortstop made a great play," Lowery said. "If she doesn't then that is a two-run homer."
Langford, who struck out seven and gave up six hits and walked four, also came up with strikeouts at key moments.
"Meredith did a good job of keeping us in this game - throwing lots of strike and quite a few balls," Blackburn said. "We are still struggling to make some routine plays in my opinion. Seven errors last night on plays that are routine and we have to shake that."
That was certainly the case against Ellison on Friday when Belton made seven errors and lost to the Lady Eagles 11-5.
The loss put Belton in a precarious playoff position - a game behind Ellison.
"I told the girls we can only afford two losses in the second half," Blackburn said. "This puts us one game out of fourth place after the first half. This is not where I would have projected us to be. Last night the final score should have been 5-1."
But, it wasn't and now Belton has to go at least 4-3 in the second half of district play to make the playoffs.
"This was his 100th win and it was a letdown (that we lost Friday)," Bishoff said. "It was great to come out here and see a different team and hopefully this is a turning point in our (season)."