COPPERAS COVE — Copperas Cove coach Shelly Hayes knows her Lady Bulldawgs weren’t considered a great-hitting team prior to the start of this season.
After 25 games it’s safe to say there has been a culture change in the Cove dugout. The Lady Dawgs bombarded Harker Heights with 16 hits in their 13-3 five-inning victory Tuesday night.
“We weren’t known for hitting before this season but we have worked so hard all year to be aggressive,” Hayes said. “We attacked early and were able to put up some runs.”
The majority of the Cove damage was done in the second inning, where the Lady Dawgs (13-12, 4-3 8-5A) scored seven runs on eight hits, including three doubles and a homer off Heights’ pitcher Brianna Smith. After an Irene Espinoza pop-up for the first out of the second, six straight Lady Dawgs reached and scored.
“We did really well tonight. We held them (to three runs),” Cove senior first baseman Brianna Sinclair said. “We played together and listened to our coach.”
Sinclair went 2 for 3 with three RBIs and blasted a one-out two-run dinger to left that made the score 9-0 Cove.
Cove freshman catcher Sydney Andrews added a round-tripper of her own in the fourth-inning. She went 3 for 4 with four runs and three RBIs to go with her first career home run.
“I was really excited when I watched it go over,” Andrews said. “It felt really good off the bat. I was really proud because we kept on hitting throughout the game.”
Ashley Hartwell also went 3 for 4 with two doubles and two RBIs for Cove while pitcher Carlee Duran added two doubles and two RBIs.
“We just didn’t play well early and it was too little too late when we finally started hitting,” Lady Knights coach Jaime Stephens said. “I asked the girls if they wanted to quit or make a run at the end — they started playing with heart.”
It wasn’t all about the hitting for the Lady Dawgs. Duran tossed a complete game, giving up two earned runs while striking out five Lady Knights (8-20, 2-5 8-5A). All three of Heights’ scores came after the game was already well in hand for Cove.
“I got really anxious for us to get the game over that I didn’t throw very well in the last inning,” Duran said. “They got a couple runs but I never worried because my team has my back.”
Duran’s performance deepens the Cove rotation by adding another solid arm to Hartwell — the Lady Dawgs’ usual starter.
“It shows that if Hartwell gets tired when she is pitching that we can go to Duran — and vice-versa,” Hayes said. “She threw strikes and was aggressive.”