|2017 COVINGTON BUCCANEERS...
The Covington Buccaneers have plenty of holes to fill in 2017, but the potential is there for another outstanding season.
COVINGTON - The Covington Buccaneers enter the 2017 season with a much smaller roster than normal and a lot of unknowns due to significant graduation losses and an unfortunate injury.
Lost from an 11-10 Buccaneer team of a year ago is a talented graduating class of Jared Williams, Noah Thomas, James Grilliot, Levi Winn, Coleman Ryan, Ben Kuether and Chase Hinnegan - leaving Covington with just four returning lettermen in seniors Nathan Blei, Kenny Atkinson, Tristin Sowers and junior catcher Mason Dilley.
Also lost from a year ago is one of Covington's key hurlers, senior Christian Nelson, who suffered a wrist in jury during football that required career-ending surgery.
Fortunately for the Buccs, senior Nathan Blei returns as the ace pitcher on the roster, while Kenny Atkinson and Tristin Sowers have varsity experience on the hill. With the new pitch count rule implemented by the OHSAA, Covington will have to find additional arms.
Moving up from the junior varsity level are senior Triston Francis, juniors Bradley Wiggins and Braden Miller, sophomores Gavin McReynolds, Nick Risner and Eli Gerling. Freshman Colton Francis and seniors Josh Sowers and Trevor Miller will also contribute at the varsity level.
Due to limited numbers, Covington will scramble to field a junior varsity squad - potentially having to move players back and forth from the varsity and reserve teams.
Still, in spite of the obstacles, Covington coach Mitch Hirsch has assembled arguably one of the best coaching staffs in his 17-year tenure leading to high expectations for once again challenging for the league title and a potential tournament run.
The success will depend on how quickly this young team can come together to find consistency in all phases of the game.