BY GREG FLINT
---- — MONTEZUMA, Ind. — The Covington softball team maintained their position at the top of the Wabash River Conference by splitting a doubleheader at Riverton Parke.
The Trojans won the first game 9-5 but dropped the second 9-6.
“We came out with intensity and hit well against their ace,” said Covington head coach Ryan Sowers about the start of game one. “We hit the way we’ve been hitting and built a 9-0 lead.”
His team maintained that lead going into the bottom of the seventh, but the Panthers fought back, scoring five runs before the Trojans get the final out.
“We relaxed and thought the game was over going into that last inning,” said Sowers. “That’s not good. We need to learn to close out games better than that.”
Game two saw Covington fall behind 2-0 early, but they rallied to take the lead. In the bottom of the second – the teams traded last at-bats for the second contest – the Trojans pushed four runs across.
Courtney Root got things going with an infield single, Ali Holmes singled to right and Megan Hall reached on an error to load the bases.
Taylar Hanson singled in Root and Holmes then was replaced by courtesy runner Katie Crawley. A wild pitch scored Hall then Crawley crossed the plate after Andi Taylor hit a sacrifice fly.
Riverton Parke responded in their next at-bat, matching the four-run Covington rally to regain the lead 6-4.
Neither team scored again until the sixth inning. The Trojans did not manage to get a hit again until the bottom of the fifth – a point that frustrated Sowers.
“The umpire had a small strike zone, but we didn’t have the patience to use it. We swung at pitches this far out of the strike zone,” he explained, holding his hands about six inches apart. “That’s not like us – we need to do better.”
Riverton Parke added a run in the sixth to lead 7-4. Covington threatened in their half, getting two hits, but not the third one that Sowers said his team needed.
The Panthers added two more runs in the seventh to lead 9-4, giving the Trojans just three outs left in the game.
Covington tried to make the most of them. Taylor reached on an error to start the inning. After a Trojan strikeout, Madison Hanson doubled to score Taylor. The next batter was an out then Root singled to center.
The shot scored Hanson, but when the Panther centerfielder threw home, Root tried for second. She looked as if she would make it but a good throw from the catcher to the shortstop resulted in a tag for the third out.
“We made some really good plays in this game,” said Sowers after the loss. “We also made some mental and physical mistakes and Riverton Parke is the kind of team that makes you pay for them.”
Despite the loss in game two, getting even one win on Saturday was noteworthy for Covington according to former head coach and current volunteer coach Judy Hegg.
“I think we’re one and ten on prom day, so this was big for us”, she said.
Greg Flint is a freelance writer/photographer for the Commercial-News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org