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Driving force: Driver’s two home runs power Plano softball past Coppell



PLANO, TX – In the four years that Plano senior catcher Casey Driver has played softball for the Lady Wildcats, not once has she hit a home run in Plano’s home ballpark. And for the Lady Wildcats, they hadn’t clubbed a home run in their home stadium since the end of the 2018 season.

Senior night on Tuesday proved to be a perfect occasion to end that drought.

Driver crushed a grand slam over the left-field wall in the bottom of the third inning and then blasted a two-run shot three innings later after a fielding error by Coppell helped to keep the home half of the sixth alive for the Lady Wildcats, leading Plano to a 9-5 victory in the Distri

Driver had a theory as to why she had never – until Tuesday – hit a home run in Plano’s stadium.

“I guess it’s just the nerves of playing at home,” she said. “Tonight was senior night, and I am a senior. I kind of manifested to myself. This is senior night. It’s our first district game. We have new coaches, half a new team, because of the sophomores that we got from JV and half of our team from last year left at the end of last school year. I just thought it was a great way to execute.”

Coppell took a 2-1 lead in the second inning on the power of a solo home run by senior catcher Dafne Mercado and an RBI triple by sophomore Medleigh Danchak. But Driver is just as capable of hitting the long ball.

Plano drew three straight walks with one out in the bottom of the third to load the bases. That set the stage for Driver, who let her bat do the talking. Driver cleared the bases with a grand slam to give the Lady Wildcats a 5-2 lead.

“I just tried to do my best job to execute and tried to do what I can for this team,” she said. “I just really battled through those inside pitches, which are really a struggle for me. I stepped back in the box and adjusted my swing.”

Coppell, which was come off a perfect 5-0 showing last week at a tournament in Allen, wasn’t deterred by Driver’s grand slam. In fact, the Cowgirls used it as motivation.

In the top of the fourth, Coppell used a combination of timely hits and good base-running to tie the score at 5-5. Anabelle Sigman scored on a pick-off attempt at first base to plate the first Cowgirl run of the frame. Laura Boylan drove home the second run on a bunt single. The third run came courtesy of an RBI single by Adrianna Erichsen.

All of the damage occurred with two outs.

“That (grand slam) sort of ticked us off a little bit,” said Mike Dyson, Coppell head coach. “We’ve been sort of used to it. We have been playing some really good teams, like Prosper and Keller. Playing those kinds of games help out a lot.”

Erichsen’s single proved to be the last run for Coppell. Sophomore Jayden Bluitt entered the game in relief of Plano senior Mackenzie Ridley, and Bluitt proceeded to slam the door on the Cowgirls. Bluitt needed just 38 pitches to retire 10 of the 11 Coppell batters that she faced in 3.1 innings of work.

“She really powered through,” Driver said of Bluitt. “She pitched for us last weekend because our senior pitcher got hurt. I think that weekend really helped her to prepare for district, get her prepared for the stress for district play.”

Plano took the lead for good on a two-run double by Bella Bishop in the home half of the fourth before Driver delivered the dagger in the sixth.

Coppell appeared to face only a two-run deficit heading into the top of the seventh, but a dropped fly ball in shallow center field allowed the sixth inning to continue.

Driver made the Cowgirls pay for the miscue, hitting her second home run of the game to give the Lady Wildcats a 9-5 lead. After she rounded the bases, a Plano fan yelled, “We love you, Casey.”