MAY 18, 2021 - VERSAILLES
There were a lot of unknowns entering the 2021 season as the Covington Lady Buccs missed out on an entire year of softball due to COVID-19 and taking the field was a roster of many young players who never saw action on a varsity softball field.
Yet, the Lady Buccs showed the potential of putting the softball program back to where it can challenge for league titles and deep post-season tournament runs in the near future.
Unfortunately, a deep tournament run wasn’t in the cards this year as Covington dropped a heartbreaking contest to Ansonia in the sectional final at Versailles by the score of 9-7 to end its season with a 17-12 record.
And much like the entire season, Covington showed the promise of being a great softball team, but hurt itself with mistakes in critical situations - mistakes Ansonia was able to take advantage of on a consistent basis.
The Tigers opened up the game with three runs in the top of the first with two of the runs coming after a Lady Bucc error.
Covington responded with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the opening inning, but Ansonia pushed its lead to 6-2 in the second thanks to a home run.
Neither team could muster much offense until Covington loaded the bases in the bottom of the fourth. Unfortunately the Lady Buccs could only manage a single run as the Tigers were able to make some plays in the field to prevent further damage.
Ansonia pushed the lead to 8-3 until Covington finally broke through with a big inning in the bottom of the sixth as Nigella Reck drilled a three-run home run in dead center field to cut the deficit to 8-6 and give the Lady Buccs a huge momentum boost.
Covington then recorded two quick outs in the top of the seventh, but an error on a dropped fly ball in the outfield turned the tables in a hurry to Ansonia’s side of the field. The Tigers were able to take advantage by plating a run to push their advantage to 9-6 with three outs left for Covington.
But as previously stated, this young Covington team is loaded with potential and that was evident by the gritty effort in the bottom of the seventh.
Senior Allie Garman led off the inning with a single to left. Sophomores Nigella Reck and Mara Newhouse followed by drawing back-to-back walks to load the bases with no outs.
Freshman Karyanne Tuner then came to the plate and drilled a line shot to center field for what appeared to be the big hit Covington needed. Unfortunately for the Lady Buccs, Ansonia’s center fielder made a diving catch and then turned the double play at third as Reck was caught in a rundown.
Garman did score from third to cut the deficit to 9-7 and Mara Newhouse moved to second, but the big play by the Tigers’ center fielder left Covington with very little wiggle room.
And the Tigers were able to get out of the jam once again as Covington’s next batter flied out to short to end the contest as Ansonia advanced to the district championship game with a 9-7 in.
Yes, it was a game Covington could have won and probably should have won. But in the grand scheme of things it was a game the Lady Buccs can use as fuel for years to come.
That’s because the kids who will return next season are very talented.
For the four seniors, who are all just great kids, it was a bitter ending to a memorable senior season where they provided the leadership and selflessness needed to reestablish the tradition of success for the Covington softball program. Allie Garman, Bethany Weldy, Rai’Shell Reed and Haylie Jackson - all four of you will be greatly missed.