COPPERAS COVE — Their heads were not in the game.
Perhaps it was because they were playing on the first day of spring break. Maybe it stemmed from overconfidence following a lopsided victory less than 24 hours prior. Waco Midway — 2012 Class 4A state semifinalist finalist — might have simply intimidated the Lady Bulldawgs.
Regardless of reason, Copperas Cove was not focused for its second District 8-5A game in two days, and the Pantherettes took full advantage, cruising to a 7-2 victory at Lady Bulldawg Field on Saturday afternoon.
“Honestly, I think (my players) weren’t really ready mentally,” Copperas Cove Shelly Hayes said. “I think they were down a little bit, and the first inning showed that. It is hard to get a team back up from that.”
Copperas Cove went four innings without a hit, suffering through a stretch of 10 consecutive batters without getting a runner on base, and committed a pair of errors as Midway produced 11 hits with five going for extra bases.
After receiving little resistance during their 23-2 victory against Shoemaker on Friday evening, the Lady Bulldawgs found themselves in an immediate hole against Midway. The Pantherettes scored three runs off four hits before Copperas Cove starting pitcher Ashley Hartwell’s strike out ended the top half of the first inning.
In the Lady Bulldawgs’ first at bat, junior centerfielder Elliana Doubleday hit for an error-assisted double and quickly scored as freshman catcher Sydney Andrews, who followed in the lineup, delivered an RBI double.
Copperas Cove (12-10, 2-1) did not record another hit until the sixth inning.
“We had the wrong mindset,” sophomore Carlee Duran said. “They got in our heads.”
The Lady Bulldawgs held Midway without a run in the following inning, but could not capitalize, leaving a pair of runners, who were walked to reach base, stranded in the second inning.
Copperas Cove did not get another player on base until Duran was walked with one out in the sixth inning. By then, however, the damage was already done.
Midway (11-10, 3-0) posted a two-run third inning, while Taylor Ellis and Courtney Colunga delivered solo home runs in the fourth and sixth innings, respectively, to build a 7-1 advantage.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Copperas Cove finally began to show life at the plate as Taylor Hammack and Kinzi Courtney had consecutive hits, leading to Hammack scoring a run. Andrews struck out swinging on the following at bat, though, to end the game.
The Lady Bulldawgs finished with five hits, including three in the final two innings.
“The girls finally got their mental composure a little bit there in the last inning, and I said ‘See, you can do it when you believe it,’” Hayes said. “We just need to work on our mental game a little bit right now.”
Copperas Cove is off until Friday, when it travels to Belton, and Hayes hopes the break will be just what her players need to get refocused for the conclusion of district.
“(It’s good to) just get away for a little bit,” the coach said. “I told them to just go, have some fun and don’t worry about softball, don’t think about softball for a few days.”
Contact Clay Whittington at email@example.com