COPPERAS COVE — To Irene Espinoza it felt like she was hitting a beach ball.
The Copperas Cove junior was perfect at the plate, going 3 for 3 with five RBIs and three runs scored as the Lady Bulldawgs cruised to a 17-0 run-rule victory against Shoemaker on Tuesday.
“You focus on it more, so it feels like it gets bigger,” Espinoza said. “I was just in the zone.”
The shortstop’s teammates were too.
Every Lady Bulldawg in the lineup scored a run as they produced 11 hits and scored at least five runs in every inning en route to the four-inning shutout, but nobody had a better performance than Espinoza.
In the first inning, Espinoza hit a two-RBI double before delivering a three-run homer over the left-field fence in the second inning and adding a single in the third.
“She really came on,” Copperas Cove head coach Shelly Hayes said. “I moved her down to the No. 7 spot to kind of take some pressure off of her because she was our No. 4 hitter, but Ashley (Hartwell) has been hitting so well throughout the
season, so I switched that.
“I just think (all) the girls are hitting really well right now and seeing the ball well.”
Only three Copperas Cove players did not record a hit in the win and four — Espinoza, Hartwell, Sydney Andrews and Taylor Hammack — produced multiple hits.
Andrews got things rolling with a single in the Lady Bulldawgs’ second at bat before Hartwell’s single sent her home two batters later. Carlee Duran scored shortly after, setting the stage for Espinoza’s first hit, which scored Hartwell and Destiny Henderson to put Copperas Cove (15-12, 6-3 8-5A) ahead 4-0.
The score did not hold for long as Hammack, who was 2 for 2 with three RBIs and a pair of runs, sent Espinoza home from third base to take a 5-0 lead into the bottom of the first inning.
Copperas Cove added six runs to its total in the second inning, including Espinoza’s home run, and batted through the lineup in each of the final two innings.
“(The Lady Bulldawgs) are a good-hitting team,” Shoemaker head coach Stacey Halim said. “For both teams, we were frustrated a little bit with the strike zone, but they were able to adjust better and took advantage of it.”
The Lady Grey Wolves (3-17, 1-8) finished the game with one hit against Hartwell, who struck out seven batters after Helena Carter singled to open the game.
“I felt like I was pitching good,” Hartwell said, “and if I wasn’t hitting my spot, I just kept trying to hit it.”
In addition to her performance on the mound, Hartwell was 2 for 2 with three RBIs and scored twice, but Espinoza stole the spotlight.
“(The double in my first at-bat) really got me going,” Espinoza said. “I was really happy. I was hoping that I would hit everything line drive with no popups.”
Contact Clay Whittington at email@example.com