Cove vs. Mansfield Lake Ridge softball

Copperas Cove senior catcher Alina Salazar (42) watches from the on-deck circle as teammate Lynsey Robinson bats during Game 2 of a Class 6A bi-district playoff series against Mansfield Lake Ridge on Friday at Whitney High School.

WHITNEY — Bryan Waller admits it — his team is not ready yet.

Copperas Cove delivered a benchmark campaign, producing a school record for wins and finishing second in the District 12-6A standings en route to returning to the playoffs after the coronavirus pandemic canceled the 2020 postseason.

But the journey ended Friday evening.

The Lady Bulldawgs struggled offensively and committed crucial errors, and it was too much to overcome as Mansfield Lake Ridge swept the bi-district series, winning Game 2 6-0 after taking the opener by a score of 7-2 on Thursday.

Although it was an uncharacteristic showing, Copperas Cove’s head coach believes it was also revealing.

“This season wasn’t as successful as it needed to be,” Waller said. “We couldn’t win a series.

“We can’t make errors, we’ve got to hit the ball, and we didn’t do those two things. We didn’t play a complete game in either game, but hopefully, we learn from it, and the ones who are returning come back fighting.”

The Lady Eagles recorded a hit in their first at bat of the evening as Tia Warsop connected for a single, and she was sent across home plate on teammate Kassidy Chance’s RBI shot two batters later.

For three innings, the 1-0 score held thanks in part to Lady Bulldawgs pitcher Brooke Schmidt, who allowed just one hit during the span, but the gap widened in the fifth inning.

With runners on second and third base, Chance hit a single to score a run, and in the process, Copperas Cove committed a pair of errors that led to the bases being cleared. Then, in the sixth inning, Lake Ridge (16-11-1) scored two more runs on two hits, including an inside-the-park home run, giving them eight hits for the game highlighted by five in the final two innings.

The Lady Bulldawgs finished with three hits as Emma Wasiak had a first-inning single, Larisa Perez hit a double in the fourth inning, and Anissa Amaro posted a single in the fifth inning.

“We cannot take performances like this and be satisfied,” Waller said. “We’ve got to be hungry and stay hungry.”

In Game 1, Lake Ridge recorded two runs in the first inning before the Lady Bulldawgs chopped the deficit in half, but the Lady Eagles responded with two more runs in the second inning, and Copperas Cove could not get closer than two runs at 4-2 in the third inning.

While it is a disappointing conclusion to the season, Copperas Cove has the potential to deliver a similar showing in the future.

The Lady Bulldawgs, who finish the year with a 26-6 record, are losing just two seniors and could return as many as 15 players on their roster, including 11 current underclassmen.

“I hope all these girls use this as motivation,” Waller said. “I hope they are disappointed with the outcome and how they performed.

“They know they are fully capable of doing better and being better.”

Despite all the possibly returning players, the team will look drastically different next year as four-year starters Alina Salazar, a catcher, and Schmidt leave the program. The pair helped resurrect the Lady Bulldawgs after failing to miss the playoffs in 2019.

“The legacy that Brooke and Alina are leaving is amazing,” Waller said. “They put four years into this program, and it got better each and every day.

“Hopefully, the girls who return will feed off that, emulate that and want to make their footsteps even bigger than the ones left by Brooke and Alina. They have to keep wanting to get better and push this program to be stronger and better, but it takes work, and they’ve got to hit the ground running.”

FRIDAY’S AREA HIGH SCHOOL PLAYOFF SCORES

Class 6A bi-district

Best-of-3

  • Mansfield 13, Belton 8 (Mansfield wins series 2-0)
  • Mansfield Lake Ridge 6, Copperas Cove 0 (Lake Ridge wins series 2-0)
  • Waco Midway 7, Harker Heights 2 (Midway wins series 2-0)

Class 4A bi-district

Best-of-3

  • Salado 3, La Grange 2 (Salado leads series 1-0)
  • Lampasas 1, Burkburnett 0, suspended in third inning

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