COPPERAS COVE — Wednesday afternoon’s tilt at home against Shoemaker didn’t start off well for the Lady Bulldawgs, but it ended on a high note.
Copperas Cove surrendered three runs to the Lady Grey Wolves in the first two innings, but remained calm and played fundamental softball to earn a 10-3 District 8-6A victory.
The triumph marked the 300th career win for Lady Bulldawgs head coach Bryan Waller.
Waller credited his personal milestone to the many players he has had in his 21 years of coaching, the last four of which have been at Copperas Cove.
“It’s not my record,” Waller said. “It’s always the girls’ record — the many wonderful, talented people I’ve been able to coach. It’s because of them.”
But the Lady Bulldawgs (12-6-1, 4-1 8-6A) had to collect themselves after a bit of a rough start to earn the win.
Shoemaker’s Makayla Scoggin got on base with a one-out walk in the top of the first inning and eventually reached second.
She then advanced to third on a passed ball before scoring on a dropped third strike, which would have gotten the Lady Bulldawgs out of the inning unscathed.
Later in the frame, Celeste Rangel plated Heather Casiano with a single to center field to give the Lady Grey Wolves (0-4 8-6A) an early 2-0 advantage.
Copperas Cove replied with two runs in the bottom half of the first to tie the contest at 2-2. Elana Montanez led off with a walk and eventually scored on an error at third, and Jayda Carter lifted a 1-1 pitch over the wall in left for a solo home run.
Shoemaker regained a 3-2 lead in the top of the second as Makaia Ellerbe reached on a leadoff walk and eventually scored on an RBI triple to right by Deborah Hamilton.
But Montanez battened the hatches in the circle for the Lady Bulldawgs and put up zeroes the rest of the way. The senior threw a complete game and surrendered three runs — one earned — on seven hits and two walks while striking out 10.
“Elana has done a good job for us all year,” Waller said. “As long as she is effectively hitting her spots, we can work together and can keep teams off balance as much as we can.
“We know we’re not going to be perfect throughout the game — they’re going to get their hits — but the offense picked it up a little bit and gave her a cushion.”
Copperas Cove scored two runs in the bottom of the third for a 4-3 edge it would not relinquish. Montanez lined a double to center to score Rylie Radigan and tie the game up, and she eventually scored on a passed ball to give the Lady Bulldawgs their one-run lead.
In the home half of the fourth, Radigan doubled to left to score Peyton Choate, and Choate had an RBI groundout while Cook tallied a sacrifice fly to left in the bottom of the fifth for a 7-3 Copperas Cove advantage.
The Lady Bulldawgs added three more runs in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI single to center by Carter and a two-run double to left by Jackie Clay to cap off the scoring.
Montanez finished the day 2 for 3 at the plate with a walk, an RBI and two runs scored for Copperas Cove. Carter was 2 for 2 with two walks, two RBIs and three runs scored, and Radigan was 2 for 3 with an RBI and two runs scored.
“We need to focus on starting a lot better — starting a lot stronger,” Waller said. “But we fought and clawed and got runs when we needed them. We did well on the bases and hit the ball hard for the most part.
“But coach (Steve) Mattox does a great job with those girls over at Shoemaker. They are getting better each and every time. They fight and they claw, and they give us a great game.”
For the Lady Grey Wolves, Hamilton was 2 for 3 to accompany her RBI triple, and Rangel was 3 for 3 with an RBI.
“We started off hitting the ball well,” Mattox said. “We were putting it in holes and, defensively, for the first four innings we played really well. Then a few errors creeped in and we stopped hitting.
“All year, we’ve hit the ball well for one or two innings and then dropped off.”
Both teams are scheduled to play Tuesday at 7 p.m.
The Lady Bulldawgs are set to host Killeen, while Shoemaker will travel to play against Harker Heights.