|2011 COVINGTON LADY BUCCS...
Even with youth and small numbers, the Covington Lady Buccs have high expectations once again.
Last season's eleven-inning heartbreaking loss to Felicity Franklin in the district championship game still stings for the ten returning players on the Covington roster and the proof is in the effort the kids have given in preparation for the 2011 season.
"These girls have been working their tails off," said Covington coach Dan Denlinger. "We're going to be young, but I think we'll be very competitive again this year."
Covington lost a talented senior class consisting of six kids and has only added three more players to a small roster of thirteen girls.
But one of the thirteen is out for the season with a knee injury and two more players are nursing injuries that will limit their playing time early in the season.
"Right now we're struggling with injuries and a lack of numbers," Denlinger said. "Morgan (McReynolds) is done for the year and Halley (Adams) and Hannah (Pond) are banged up. Including Hannah, we really only have eleven girls who are healthy enough to play."But those eleven girls are very capable players and with the leadership of seniors Chloe Shell and Aubrye Cain, optimism is high in Covington.
"I think we'll be right in the thick of things in our league," said Denlinger. "Of course our league is one of the better leagues around. Newton is the defending state champions and they have almost everybody back. Miami East and Twin Valley South were also really good teams last year and both of them return almost everybody. Throw us in the mix and I think on any given day any one of us can beat the other."
The key for Covington will be how well it can mesh as a team early in the season, especially with such a young roster.
"We'll have to find our identity early," Denlinger explained. "We're still figuring some things out - who's filling what roll on the team and things like that."
One roll that is definite is the go-to pitcher. That would be senior standout Chloe Shell.
"We'll have four pitchers, but Chloe will likely see most of the action," Denlinger said. "But we won't be able to rely strictly on her because we'll want to develop for the future too. Aubrye Cain, Cassie Yingst and Heidi Snipes will see action on the mound as well."
Cain will also hold down her position at first, while Jessie Shilt will play second, Casey Yingst at short and Heidi Snipes controls third base.
Two familiar faces will be behind the plate as sophomore Connor Schaffer and Samantha Slusher will share the catching duties.
The outfield will consist of Pond, Hallie Adams, Brittanie Flora, Shainna Grilliot, Kyrstyn Boyer and Shell.