Cotton limits Lady Hawks to two hits
By DAVID MITCHELL
A strong start to the season got better for the Harris County softball team.
Behind the arm of sophomore Kayla Cotton and a seven-run fifth inning, the Lady Tigers rolled to an 11-0 win over the Lady Hawks on Tuesday at Hardaway.
The win gave Harris County (8-2, 2-0 Region 1-AAAAA) its sixth consecutive win.
"I think overall, we did well," coach Brook Zuerner said after the game. "We've still got a long way to go, but we did some good things."
Cotton was the driving force for the team in this game, pitching a complete game, two-hit shutout and striking out eight Hardaway batters.
All game, she used an effective screwball inside to keep the Lady Hawks off their toes.
It worked. Only two runners made it as far as third base, once in the first and once in the third. Both runners advanced with only one out, but Cotton avoided damage without much of a struggle.
"I'm pleased with her work," Zuerner said. "There's more to do, but she had a good inside pitch working today. She was getting ahead of hitters. That's the biggest thing, not getting in a hole."
Both Cotton and Zuerner see plenty of things for her to keep working on.
"It was good, but can do better," Cotton said.
Cotton said that she'd like to work
more on her control (she walked four batters in the game), and Zuerner said that, now that the inside pitch was working, attacking the outside better would need to come as well.
"I see things to work on," Zuerner said. "She needs to throw the outside pitch a little bit better. As long as we're learning, though, it's alright to make those mistakes."
Offensively, Harris County put the pressure on the Hardaway defense often.
In the third inning, behind timely hitting and aggressive baserunning, the Lady Tigers jumped out to a 3-0 lead.
Kirsten Kopp and Teale Moran got the inning going with one out when they were hit by a pitch in back-to-back at-bats. Both runners then stole second and third base to set up Lauren Munoz.
Munoz grounded to shortstop to drive in the first run of the game, breaking a 0-0 tie. With two outs, the Lady Tigers went to work, getting an RBI single from Cotton and an RBI double from Taylor Williams. A walk and an infield single loaded the bases, but Harris County was unable to pile on any more.
The Lady Tigers notched another run in the fourth before putting the game away in the sixth with a seven-run inning. The team notched six hits in the inning, including another RBI single from Cotton, and batted around. Cotton finished 2 for 4 with two RBIs in the game.
Williams was also 2 for 4 and Kopp was 2 for 2 with three runs and three steals.
"I think we needed to make adjustments at the plate," Zuerner said. "I'm not sure we ever did, but we put it in play enough to put pressure against them."
Hardaway coach Amber Browning said she got a good enough performance from her starting pitcher, Kaitlyn Cross, but that her defense needed to do a better job backing her up.
"We made a lot of mistakes defensively," she said. "The pitcher did her job, and the defense didn't back her up."
Hardaway will get its next chance at 4:30 p.m. on Friday when it hosts Thomas County Central. Harris County takes on a non-region opponent in Upson-Lee on Thursday.
Harris County at Hardaway
Harris County 003 107 --11 11 1
Hardaway 000 000 --0 2 3
WP-- Cotton. LP-- Cross. Hitting leaders-- Harris County, Cotton, 2-4, 2 RBIs, Williams, 2-4, Kopp 2-2, 3 runs; Hardaway, Armstrong, 2-3. Records-- Harris County, 8-2, 2-0 Region 1-AAAAA; Hardaway, 4-10, 0-1. Next-- Harris County, Thurs. at Upson-Lee; Hardaway, Fri. vs. Thomas County Central.