COPPERAS COVE — Steve Mattox could not explain it.
For four years, Shoemaker’s head coach struggled to bring the program to relevance, working to guide the Lady Grey Wolves back into the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
Tuesday evening, he accomplished the goal.
Behind a quartet of home runs in the first three innings, Shoemaker constructed an early lead it never relinquished en route to an 8-6 victory that clinched District 12-6A’s final playoff berth.
Following the monumental win, Mattox admitted the emotions were difficult to describe.
“This feeling is jubilation,” he said, “it’s exaltation; it’s just anything anyone could imagine.
“These kids have worked really hard to get to this point, and it’s just not an easy feeling to explain.”
For Lady Grey Wolves third baseman Madelyn Morua, who hit her first two home runs of the season in the contest, the sentiments were simple.
“This feels amazing,” she said. “We worked our butts off, gave it our all and left it all on the field.
“I’m just really proud of our team.”
Shoemaker (12-11, 9-6) took immediate control of the game as Darlene Estrella recorded an inside-the-park home run in the top of the first inning
before Morua sent the second pitch she saw over the left-field wall in the second inning.
Then, in the third inning, Deborah Hamilton hit a two-RBI home run, and Morua followed two batters later with another two-run shot out of the park, making the score 6-0.
Along with lighting up the scoreboard, the Lady Grey Wolves’ offense provided momentum.
“The adrenaline was pumping,” Morua said. “We were all hyped up, and after that, we just kept pushing ourselves.
“We just really wanted to win with everything we had.”
The Lady Bulldawgs, who were eliminated from playoff contention after six consecutive appearances, rallied, though, trimming the deficit to five runs, 7-2, following four innings before outscoring Shoemaker 4-1 during the final three innings.
But it was not enough.
The Lady Grey Wolves held on despite Copperas Cove (7-8) producing a three-run, three-hit sixth inning and Alina Salazar hitting a solo home run in the seventh inning.
“We knew they were going to battle,” Shoemaker pitcher Madalyne Martinez said, “but we wanted it more.
“We made some errors, but we fixed it, and we redeemed ourselves.”
And now, for the first time in a decade, the Lady Grey Wolves are preparing for the postseason.
With one game remaining in the regular season, however, Mattox knows his team must contain its celebration.
“Harker Heights is going to come in and try beat us Thursday,” he said. “We can’t afford to tiptoe through the game. We have to come in focused and ready to win.
“That’s how we are going to continue to get better.”