CLAYTON – It is difficult to beat a very good team three times in one season, but the Covington Lady Buccs were able to do so in a 9-1 victory over Riverside in the regional semifinal on Wednesday at Northmont High School.
Covington had defeated Riverside 10-2 and 18-5 in TRC action during the regular season, but knew the Pirates were an extremely dangerous team due to their ability to hit the ball and the quality pitching of Alaina Snow.
That proved accurate through two innings as neither team could find a way to put any runs on the board.
Riverside opened up the first inning with a one-out single in right-center and Covington made a huge defensive play to end the inning as Erika Gostomksy scooped up a hard hit ball between first and second and then threw to Nigella Reck at second base, who then threw to Kamryn Barnes at first for a double play to end the inning.
Meg Rogers started things off for the Lady Buccs in the bottom of the first with a base hit in the gap. Nigella Reck then drilled a line drive that appeared as if it was headed over the head of Riverside’s shortstop Jade Copas, but Copas made an amazing catch and threw to first for a double play. Maggie Anderson followed with a hard hit ball that was caught in left field to end a scoreless first inning.
Both teams went down one-two-three in the second and Covington was able to finally break through in the bottom of the third.
Taylor Foutz drew a one-out walk and then Erika Gostomksy advanced her to second on a sacrifice bunt. Meg Rogers followed with a two-run home run to give Covington a 2-0 lead.
After a scoreless fourth inning, Covington broke through with three more runs in the bottom of the fifth.
Erika Gostomsky started things off with a one-out single and advanced to second on a passed ball. Meg Rogers doubled to score Gostomsky from second and then Nigella Reck connected on an RBI single to score Rogers. Reck was then thrown out at second on an attempted steal, but Mara Newhouse kept the momentum going with a double that bounced off the outfield fence. Karyanne Turner followed up with a double of her own to score Newhouse to push Covington’s lead to 5-0 after five innings.
Riverside responded in the top of the sixth with a towering home run and followed by loading the bases with one out. Meg Rogers struck out the next batter and then freshman Jayda McClure made a running catch in shallow right field to end the inning.
Leading 5-1 heading in the bottom of the sixth, Covington loaded the bases with two outs. Maggie Anderson connected on a three-run double and Mara Newhouse followed with another big hit to score Anderson from second to push Covington’s lead to 9-1.
Meg Rogers then struck out the first two Riverside batters in the top of the seventh and forced a flyout to Karyanne Turner in center field to end the contest.
Overall, Covington racked up 12 hits on the day and didn’t commit a single error in the field.
Meg Rogers went 3-for-3 with a two-run home run, a double and three RBI. Mara Newhouse went 3-for-4 with an RBI, while Nigella Reck went 2-for-3 with an RBI and Maggie Anderson had a three-run double.
Karyanne Turner, Taylor Foutz, Kamryn Barnes and Erika Gostomsky also recorded hits for Covington.
Meg Rogers was stellar in the circle once again as she struck out nine batters, walked just one and allowed four hits against a very good hitting team.
The 9-1 victory was extremely gratifying because it came against a very good Riverside team that is in the same league as Covington, the Three Rivers Conference. Covington, Riverside and Miami East are three teams in the TRC who advanced to regional play this season, which proves just how tough the league is in the sport of softball.
The Lady Buccs, now 28-4 on the season, will face Parkway in the regional final on Friday at 5:00pm at Northmont High School with a trip to the State Final Four on the line.