Having seen its seven-run lead evaporate in just two innings Tuesday, Copperas Cove head coach Bryan Waller felt his team was suddenly pressing on the road against Ellison.
And with the game still tied in the top of the sixth, Waller laid down a new law for the Lady Bulldawg hitters.
“I told them I don’t want them swinging at the first pitch,” Waller said. “Make the pitcher throw you more pitches. See more pitches. That way you can have a better feel of what to do.”
Waller’s advice paid off in a big way, as Cove settled down to come up with four runs in a decisive sixth inning of a 14-10 win at Ellison High School.
Rachel Jost, who also picked up the win in the circle, started the Lady Bulldawgs’ rally in the sixth with a leadoff triple that eventually turned into the
go-ahead run. Coming to the plate, all she wanted to do was heed Waller’s advice.
“I knew I wasn’t going to swing at the first one, because Coach just told us not to,” Jost said with a laugh. “So, the first one was a strike and the next one, I saw it coming inside and I had to pull it.”
The win was a big one for Cove (11-10, 3-2 8-5A), which improved to a winning record in league play with the victory.
Ellison, meanwhile, fell to 1-4 in district play as the Lady Eagles (9-10) were unable to complete the rally after erasing an early seven-run deficit.
The game reminded head coach Rebecca Daley of the Lady Eagles’ first district win against Harker Heights last week, in which they fell behind five runs.
“In that case, it turned out in our favor,” Daley said. “In this case it didn’t.”
After the teams ended the first tied at 2-2, Cove busted the game open with a six-run second inning that featured two-run doubles by Autumn Hughes and Carlee Duran.
The Lady Bulldawgs added two runs in the top of the third as they appeared to be closing in on a run-rule victory, up 10-3.
But Ellison responded with four runs in the bottom of the third to pull within 10-7 before Felicia Camargo, who relieved Madison Livers in the second, finally held Cove without a run in the fourth.
“Felicia is our rock at the pitching machine,” Daley said.
“She’s my senior leader at the plate.”
Ellison capitalized on the opportunity in the bottom of the fourth as Alexis Watson ripped a two-run triple to pull within one then later scored the tying run from second after a passed ball and an error by Cove.
But after a scoreless fifth, Jost got Cove going again by smoking a leadoff triple down the right-field line.
Pinch-runner Tayler Hammack later crossed the plate on a Veronica Marshall sacrifice fly to give Cove an 11-10 lead before the Lady Bulldawgs loaded the bases.
Irene Espinoza then put Cove up 14-10 with a bases-clearing double that put the game away for good.
And after grinding out what once appeared to be a certain victory, Cove was simply happy to have responded to the challenge presented by the host Lady Eagles.
“When we were up, everyone was pumped and everything,” Espinoza said. “Then when they came back and tied, we got down a little bit. But then we picked up ourselves at the end and we won. I was so happy.”