By James Harper
Killeen Daily Herald
COPPERAS COVE - Hitting for the cycle is one of the rarest feats in all of sports. A triple play is even more unusual.
Having both occur in the same game is almost unheard of. Almost.
The Copperas Cove Lady Bulldawgs were on the wrong end of both Monday afternoon when District 12-5A leading A&M Consolidated got a cycle from junior leadoff hitter Taylor Oberg and then snuffed out a sixth-inning rally with a triple play for an 8-6 win.
"We had plenty of opportunities but we left 10 runners on base," Lady Bulldawgs coach Jim Lowery said. "I'm glad to see us get runners on, now we have to get them in."
With the bases loaded and no outs in the bottom of the sixth, after Minzi Courtney, Elliana Doubleday and Carlee Duran drew consecutive walks to open the frame, the Lady Dawgs' appeared on the verge of a breakthrough inning despite trailing 8-5.
Ashley Hartwell followed with a sacrifice fly to score Courtney, but instead of Doubleday and Duran both advancing to second and third on the throw in, the Cove runners hesitated too long tagging up and were thrown out at third and first, respectively, for the inning-ending triple play.
"We had bases loaded and Hartwell did her job," Lowery said. "But when you play a team as good as A&M is and make those mistakes it makes it really hard to win."
Not helping matters was the cycle from Oberg, who finished 4-for-5 with five RBIs and two runs scored on the afternoon.
"I didn't know that I hit the cycle until I got back to the dugout and everyone was screaming with excitement," said Oberg, who started with a leadoff single to open the game. "It's pretty exciting because it's so hard to do."
Cove came out firing in the bottom half of the first inning, as Irene Espinoza (3-for-4, three RBIs, two runs) strode to the plate and hit a pitch over the fence for a two-run home run after Duran got on with a leadoff walk.
The Lady Dawgs' (13-6, 1-2 12-5A) lead wouldn't last long, though, thanks to Oberg.
The Lady Tigers (4-15, 3-0) scored three runs in the second inning on a two-out, three-run homer from Oberg before Cove senior pitcher Kate Stephens fanned Kayla Bowman to end the threat.
As was the case the whole night, the Lady Dawgs fought back in the third when a leadoff double by Hartwell turned into a run on a Espinoza single, knotting the score 3-3. Espinoza quickly stole second and scored on a fielder's choice from Brianna Sinclair to retake the lead, 4-3.
But the fourth inning is where it fell apart for the Lady Dawgs.
After getting two quick outs on three pitches, Consolidated's Kasey Bangs drew a walk and was immediately knocked in courtesy of an RBI triple to right-center by Oberg to tie the game at 4-4. But Stephens couldn't get that last out, as the Lady Tigers tallied three more runs before Duran replaced Stephens on the mound and got out of the inning trailing 7-4.
Stephens took the loss, allowing seven runs in 3 2/3 innings with four strikeouts.
"We got the first girls quick and the next batter down to her last strike," Lowery said. "But instead we walked her and couldn't stop them."
The Tigers' final run of the night came on Oberg's RBI double in the fifth that gave her the ever-elusive cycle and Consolidated an 8-4 advantage.
"She is such a great hitter and an even tougher out," Lowery said. "Even the out she got was a deep fly to center that nearly hit the fence."
Bryan 16, Copperas Cove 4 - Twice the Lady Bulldawgs were a can-of-corn catch away from getting out the inning.
But a pair of two-out dropped fly balls led to seven combined runs between the fifth and sixth innings as the visiting Lady Vikings salvaged a District 12-5A road split in a doubleheader Monday evening.
The Lady Dawgs actually led 4-3 after a four-run third when Rachel Joust scored two on an RBI double. But Bryan rallied to tie it with a single run in the fourth and then exploded for a six-run fifth and a pair of three-run innings in the sixth and seventh for the rout.
Earlier Monday, Bryan was no-hit by Temple in a 2-0 loss.
Little River-Academy 15, Florence 0, 3 inn. - At Academy, pitcher Brooklynne Owens walked five batters and hit another as the host Lady Bumblebees racked up 12 runs in the first inning of their three-inning rout.
Jenny Roche had the lone hit for Florence (0-8, 0-3 27-2A) in the top of the first inning.
Alex Byington contributed to this report.