BY GREG FLINT
MONTEZUMA, Ind. —
The Covington High School softball team jumped out to an early lead and fended off several North Vermillion threats for a 4-2 win and the first sectional in the Trojans’ history.
North Vermilion threatened in the first inning as they put runners on first and second with one out, but Covington pitcher Ali Holmes got two ground balls to retire the side with no damage done.
Covington started well enough as leadoff hitter Aliah Larsen singled to center and moved to second with one out when Madison Hanson singled.
The Trojans used a double steal to get both runners into scoring position then Holmes singled to right field to drive in the pair to lead 2-0.
It did not take long for the Falcons to respond. They got a run in the second on an infield single by Melissa Moody, a bloop single to center by Kinsey West, a walk to Mikayla Kinneer and an RBI single by Linzi Woodard that drove in Moody.
The score remained 2-1 until the third when Hanson led off with a triple to the centerfield fence. Two batters later, Holmes singled to drive in Hanson to make it 3-1, but that was all the Trojans could get in the inning.
The Falcons got one back in the fifth on a double to center by Woodard, a single by Taylen Balding and a 4-3 double play that scored Woodard, but quickly put two outs on the board.
“I wanted that ball for the double play,” said Covington second baseman Andi Taylor. “I want every ball, but we needed the double play.”
She continued, saying, “We didn’t care about the run. I knew we’d get more runs of our own.”
The next Falcon batter popped up to end the inning, so the two-outs for one run turned out to be the correct play.
Covington got an insurance run in the sixth when Regan Foster tripled to the left field wall and Taylor drove her in with a hard ground ball that bounced off the first baseman’s mitt and down the right field line.
Macie Cooper hit a hard liner that might have scored Taylor, but it was right at Falcon second baseman Kinneer.
Going into the top of the seventh, the Trojans needed only three outs for the win and the title.
They got those outs, but North Vermillion made them earn them.
Kinneer singled to lead off. After two outs, Whitney McMasters singled her to second, but the next batter hit a fly ball to left that ended the game.
“They played good ball,” said North Vermillion head coach Ray Hall about the Trojans. “They got some good at bats tonight. They’re a good team and will represent us well on Tuesday.”
He turned to describing his team, saying they were “good kids on the field, in school and in the community.”
Hall was completing his fifth year with the team and said he would miss his five seniors.
Hall made his stamp on the program by constantly getting his players to improve both in the offseason and throughout the campaign, but perhaps his biggest contribution was to the confidence of his players.
“I think they began to believe they ought to win games,” he said. “We’re still a streaky team, but I think by the end of the season, all of them believed and had passion for the game.”
The word “passion” also came from the mouth of Covington coach Ryan Sowers as he described what he has tried to instill in his team over the past three years.
“I’ve tried to work on fundamentals and getting them to have a passion for the game,” he said. “I think that is finally paying off.”
Looking at the sectional and the upcoming regional, Sowers said, “I think the girls expected to win. We’ve played well during the year and now this is a new team with a new heart and new passion. We’re ready to go on.”
Greg Flint is a freelance writer/photographer for the Commercial-News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org