It didn’t take long for the Cooper Dogettes to jump out on the Honey Grove Lady Warriors on Thursday and they never looked back, utilizing a balanced offensive attack and some stellar pitching to claim the bi-district crown with a 13-0 win.
The first three batters of the game reached base for Cooper, beginning with a leadoff stand-up double by Presley Limbaugh, and in seemingly the blink of an eye, Cooper was on the board with a 1-0 lead.
Graci Phipps, Chesney Kinnamon, Paige Perez and Leighanna Donaldson had RBIs for Cooper in the opening frame, and headed into the second inning, the Dogettes led 5-0.
“Our bats were really strong for us tonight,” Cooper head coach Ashleigh Hinshaw said. “And any time you have Presley Limbaugh leading off for you, you’re in pretty good shape.”
On the other side of the ball, Dogette freshman pitcher Chani Sonntag was on top of her game, allowing just one hit while striking out 11 Honey Grove batters in the process.
“She was throwing fire today,” Hinshaw said after the game.
Backing Sonntag up was some stellar defense, as the few times the ball was put in play, it was almost always cleaned up with strong defense. One of the defensive highlights came in the top of the fourth, when Limbaugh charged a slow-rolling ground ball hit by Lady Warrior Tylar Lane and then threw an absolute bullet of a pass to first base for the out.
Honey Grove’s lone hit of the day came in the fifth inning, on a line drive to left field by pitcher Makiyah Johnson.
Five more runs came in the second for Cooper, with RBIs from Heidi Wood, Perez, Kinnamon and Donaldson.
“We wanted to stay aggressive throughout the entire game,” Hinshaw said. “We wanted to average five runs per inning, but we didn’t quite hit that. ‘No mercy,’ has kind of been our motto this whole year.”
Hinshaw said the fact that the teams just played a single game increased the pressure, as it reduced the margin for error. However, for Limbaugh, it didn’t change anything.
“Personally, my mindset was the same,” she said. “We just had to come out and dominate.”
For Honey Grove, the loss marks the end to a season that saw the team overcome a plethora of obstacles.
“It’s been a tough season, and I’m so proud of these girls for how they overcame,” head coach Carley Price said. “We had a bunch of girls move around and play multiple positions. We had three girls step up and pitch even though they hadn’t pitched since middle school. Every one of these girls worked their butts off.”
For Cooper, the bi-district title is the first for the program since 1996, Hinshaw said.
“It’s exciting,” the head coach said. “It’s a matter of changing the culture here. These are a great group of girls and they’ve bought in and put in the hard work. They totally deserve this.“
“It feels great; this is what we’ve been working towards,” Limbaugh added. “We’ve got to keep working, take things one game at a time and not get ahead of ourselves now.”