2023 BUCCANEER BASEBALL
The Covington Buccaneers are coming off on an 8-14 season a year ago where they finished runner-up in the TRC with an 8-6 league record.
The Buccs lost a lot of talent to graduation from a year ago and will field a relatively young team in 2023 with eight returning lettermen; juniors Trey Schmelzer, Carter Owens, Jacob Tipps, Michael Hagan and Connor Humphrey, along with sophomores Tyler Jay, Tanner Palsgrove, Kian French.
The lone senior on the roster is Corey Marion.
With the loss of some key pitchers from last season, the Buccs will rely heavily on sophomore Tyler Jay and hopefully see others develop on the hill.
“Tyler Jay is our only returning starting pitcher,” said Covington coach Andy Johnson. “He earned All League Honorable Mention last year as a freshman, and we are hoping he continues to develop this year.”
Jay will also be a key contributor in the infield, along with Jacob Tipps.
“He will be our starting shortstop when he is not pitching,” Johnson continued. “He is a strong defensive player who wants to do his best to support his pitchers. Jacob Tipps will move around the infield depending on the situation. He has put a lot of time into his game in the off season, and he is starting to see the fruits of his labor.”
Junior Trey Schmelzer returns at catcher for the Buccs after earning second-team all-league last year.
“Trey is a tremendous leader for our team both in how he carries himself as a person and how he motivates his teammates to be the best version of themselves,” Johnson said.
Covington has speed in the outfield with the likes of Michael Hagan, Tanner Palsgrove, Connor Humphrey and Carter Owens. Depending on how things develop, some may be moved into the infield, but Owens is locked in at center.
“Carter Owens will be our centerfielder this spring,” emphasized Johnson. “He gets a great jump on the ball, and he is willing to go all out to support his pitchers. Carter has taken charge of our outfielders, and he has done a really good job at helping the younger guys with their skills.”
The Buccaneers hope to be in the mix in what is a very good conference.
“Miami East, Troy Christian, and Bethel will be the teams to beat in the league this year,” Johnson said. “When Riverside has Warren Shockey on the mound, they can compete with anyone.”
With a tough schedule in place, Covington hopes to peak come tournament time.
“We are hoping to improve and develop as the season progresses, and give ourselves a chance to be a threat in the tournament,’ said Johnson.
The 2023 Buccaneers showed a lot of promise despite being a very young team with just one senior on the roster. The Buccs recorded a 9-13 overall record, one more win than a year ago where they finished 8-14. Covington ended up finishing sixth in the TRC standings with a 6-7 league record.
The Buccs started off the season strong by winning their first three games and six out of their first eight games. Unfortunately, Covington suffered through a nine-game losing streak throughout the middle of the season, but finished the regular season by winning two of their last three games – one being a no-hitter by sophomore Tyler Jay in an 18-0 win over Fairlawn.
The biggest win for Covington came in the opening round of the state tournament in a 4-2 victory over Jackson Center. The Buccs played well in the second tournament game against rival Bradford, but dropped the game in heartbreaking fashion, 2-1.
Sophomore Ashton Skaggs earned First Team honors in the TRC after compiling a 2.725 ERA, 32 strikeouts and a win/loss record of 5-4. He also led the Buccs with a .296 batting average.
Tanner Palsgrove, another sophomore, led the Buccs with 18 hits and 16 runs scored, while junior Grant Blore led the team with 12 RBI. Palsgrove and Blore also led the team with four hits each that went for extra bases.
Defensively, junior Carter Owens had the highest fielding percentage on the team 0.981.
Carter Owens and Tanner Palsgrove were named Second Team in the TRC, while Grant Blore and Trey Schmelzer were chosen Honorable Mention in the league.
Except for senior Corey Marion, the entire roster returns next season, making for extremely high expectations.
2023 BUCCANEER BASEBALL SCHEDULE
TVS @ DAYAIR PARK
POST SEASON HONORS
FIRST TEAM – THREE RIVERS CONFERENCE
Ashton Skaggs – Sophomore
SECOND TEAM – THREE RIVERS CONFERENCE
Carter Owens – Junior
Tanner Palsgrove – Junior
HONORABLE MENTION – THREE RIVERS CONFERENCE
Grant Blore – Junior
Trey Schmelzer – Junior