By James Harper
The Cove Herald
Katelynn Stephens dominated while her counterpart Morissa Cosper struggled to find her mark as the Lady Dawgs blasted Shoemaker 15-0 in four innings Monday night.
While Cosper struggled simply to throw strikes, Stephens was near perfect, allowing one hit to go along with six strikeouts.
"(Stephens) has been a starter for (us) since her freshman year and has earned the right to be called our ace," said Lady Dawgs coach Jim Lowery.
Stephens toed the rubber and set the tone early as she struck out the side in the top of the first inning.
"I was just trying to throw strikes and let my defense help me," Stephens said.
Cove's (13-5, 1-1) offense backed up its starter, scoring three runs apiece in the first two innings.
With two runners on and no outs in the first, the Lady Dawgs' Ashley Hartwell drilled a two-run single to the base of the left-field wall to begin the rout.
Hartwell then stole second and was sacrificed to third by Brianna Sinclair. Rachal Jost followed with a sacrifice fly of her own and the score was 3-0 after the opening frame.
Irene Espinoza barely missed another home run in the fourth inning, sending a line drive to the top of the center field wall for a two-RBI double.
"My previous bats weren't too (good), so I wanted to get a good hit," Espinoza said. "The pitch was outside and I just went with it."
Only two Shoemaker hitters were able to get the ball out of the infield against Stephens - one a lone single and the other was a lazy fly-out to right field.
Stephens only found herself in trouble once the whole night, after walking the first two Lady Grey Wolves in the top of the third.
"I couldn't let them score," Stephens said. "I put it in my mind and heart that they wouldn't score, so I wouldn't let them cross the plate."
Lady Dawgs finish second at Taylor
After opening district play with a 13-1 loss to Ellison on Tuesday, Copperas Cove coach Jim Lowery knew his team needed something to build on.
The Lady Dawgs got a little bit of that foundation at the Lady Duck Invitational in Taylor last weekend.
Copperas Cove (13-5) took second place at the tournament after falling to 3A No. 7 Robinson 9-3 in the tournament championship Saturday.
"We played pretty well, but Robinson was pretty good," Lowery said "I was pleased with how we played for the whole tournament. Hopefully we can keep the momentum going when we play Shoemaker on Monday."
Hartwell had a two-RBI triple and Carlee Duran had the Lady Dawgs' other RBI in the loss. Hartwell and Stephens made the all-tournament team for Copperas Cove, which defeated Thrall 12-3 to make the title game.
Eight of nine starters had hits for the Lady Dawgs and six had two hits in the blowout win, with Sinclair leading the way. She was 2-for-3 and had five RBIs, including a bases-loaded triple and a two-run single.
The Lady Bulldawgs picked up four wins at the Lady Duck Invitational on Thursday behind the pitching of Stephens, who picked up two wins.
The Lady Dawgs defeated Killeen 10-0, Del Valle 3-2, Lexington 4-3 in pool play and then defeated and Groesbeck 2-1 as bracket play began.
Hartwell and Sinclair also picked up wins for Copperas Cove.