“Tonight’s a must-win for us,” Harker Heights softball coach Sarah Cruddas said Friday night.
In the Lady Knights’ final home game of the season, the Lady Knights were determined to stay in the playoff race as they faced off against Copperas Cove.
Laney Salciado started on the mound for Harker Heights, but errors across the field added up to a nine-run opening inning for Copperas Cove.
“That first inning just got away from us,” said Cruddas.
Salciado lasted just one-third of an inning and 21 pitches before the Lady Knights made a change in the circle.
Ashleigh Palma came in to pitch for Heights with the bases loaded and nobody out and the top of the Cove lineup back at the plate.
Palma and the Lady Knights allowed two more runs before getting out of the inning.
Down, but not out, Harker Heights got to work at the plate, sparked by senior Ja’Lynn Swiney with a two-run home run over the left field wall.
Leading off the second inning, Lady Knights senior Sophie Young was robbed on a ball hit to shallow right field when Cove right fielder Nazhoni Wyss made a diving catch.
Heights’ Kaycee McDowell belted a leadoff, first pitch home run straight over the center field wall to open the bottom of the third and Marissa Stillwell followed with a base hit.
Stillwell stole second and a sacrifice fly into right field from Mady Garrison allowed the run to come home.
“In their last season, I just want my seniors to be able to leave it all out on the field,” Cruddas said in February. The Lady Knights had 15 returning varsity players this season.
Heights battled its way back to within 10-8 after five innings.
Madilyn Scribner extended Cove’s lead with a solo homer and the Lady Dawgs held on for the 11-9 win.
“It was a good game,” Cruddas noted. “We just have to get back at it tomorrow.”
At 8-6, Shoemaker has the inside track for the final playoff spot with two nights remaining. But the Lady Dawgs (7-7) are just a game behind, and the two teams meet Tuesday in Copperas Cove.
Friday’s loss eliminated Heights (6-9). The Lady Knights take their final 12-6A bye on Tuesday before closing the season Thursday at Shoemaker.