WACO — For three innings, Bryan Waller was confident his team had control.
Then, errors erased his emotions.
Copperas Cove jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the opening game of its Class 5A bi-district series against Mansfield Timberview, but a fateful fourth inning sparked a comeback.
The Lady Bulldawgs committed two errors in the inning as the Lady Wolves quickly overcame the deficit before cruising to a 13-2 victory at the Waco ISD Sports Complex on Friday evening.
After the game, Copperas Cove’s head coach admitted he felt his team let one slip away.
“We started off strong and had them off balance,” Waller said. “We had them on the ropes. We had them where we wanted them, and in our opinion, Timberview was like, ‘What the heck is going on?’
“We had a chance to close them out in the fourth inning, but we got an error and then another error, and they got three unearned runs. Once they took the lead, they never looked back.”
The Lady Bulldawgs recorded five errors in the defeat, losing their third consecutive playoff game to Timberview after the Lady Wolves swept Copperas Cove out of the playoffs in the opening round last year.
Although the score ended up being lopsided, the Lady Bulldawgs (17-15) had several opportunities to cut into the score, but left a total of 11 runners stranded during the game, ending every inning after the second with two runners remaining on base.
“We didn’t capitalize when we got base runners on,” Waller said.
“Not getting runs in when you can and not keeping pressure on them is a big thing.”
Early on, however, the Lady Wolves, who were tied for 30th in the final regular season state rankings, were the ones squandering opportunities.
Timberview (22-6) left four runners stranded in scoring position during the first two innings before going three up and three down in the top of the third inning.
Then, the Lady Bulldawgs made their move as Tayler Hammack and Elliana Doubleday both scored on an error during teammate Irene Espinoza’s at-bat.
But the Lady Wolves had an immediate response, scoring three runs in the following inning before increasing their lead to 4-0 in the fifth inning.
Things began spiraling out of control for Copperas Cove in the sixth and seventh innings as it gave up a combined nine runs while committing three more costly errors.
Espinoza and Hammack each posted two hits for the Lady Bulldawgs, but received little help offensively from their teammates as Copperas Cove finished with seven hits.
Game 2 of the series is set to begin at 4 p.m. today at Waco ISD Sports Complex with Game 3, if necessary, following Game 2.
The recipe for success is simple, according to Waller.
“They’ve got to understand that no matter what they are fighting through, no matter what they are battling, they’ve got to put this one behind them,” Waller said. “Tomorrow is a new day.
“We’ve got to win twice, and that is a given. So everybody has to show up and play. We can’t make mistakes, and we can’t make errors because if we make errors against a team like this, they are going to beat us.”