|APRIL 30, 2013 - BRADFORD
It was a tournament type of atmosphere at Bradford High School as unbeaten Covington took the short bus ride to its neighboring rival for a huge Cross County Conference showdown with a gritty Bradford team on Tuesday.
And the large crowd that outlined the fence witnessed two stingy defensive teams, along with two of the better pitchers in the area in Covington's Casey Yingst and Bradford's Haley Patty.
But when the dust settled it was Covington who kept its unbeaten record in tact with a hard-fought 4-0 win.
"They always play us tough," said Covington coach Dean Denlinger of Bradford. "That Patty girl is a player now. She's a good pitcher, but it's her relentless effort that stands out. Not too many kids lay out to catch a ball like she did."
The play Denlinger was referring to came in the top of the sixth as Covington had runners on second and third with one out. Leading 3-0, Denlinger elected to try and squeeze one in, but Patty got a great jump on the bunt attempt by Heidi Cron - laid out and caught the ball off the dirt and then had the presence of mind to double up Covington with a dart to third base.
"That was a great play," said Denlinger. "I'm yelling 'back, back, back', but there really wasn't much J.D. (Jessica Dammeyer) could do because we called a squeeze and she (Patty) just made a great play."
It was the type of play that symbolized the entire game as both teams played nearly flawless defense. Covington didn't have a single error, while Bradford was tagged with one error, which was an effort error. Plus, six times runners were gunned down attempting to steal.
"We played great defense," said Denlinger. "That's become our identity."
The Lady Buccs opened the scoring with two runs in the top of the first as Heidi Snipes and Erin Olson crossed the plate.
Covington scored again in the top of the fourth to give itself a little more cushion and then increased the lead to 4-0 on a run by Heidi Cron in the top of the seventh.
But Bradford wasn't about to go quietly as it loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh with one out to force Denlinger to call a conference call in the infield.
And after refocusing Covington was able to record the final two outs needed to preserve the shutout win.
"This is a nice win, a good league win," said Denlinger. "In our league, anybody can beat anybody on any given day, especially if you aren't on top of your game."
Covington outhit Bradford 8 to 5 in the contest, but couldn't string the hits together to break the game open, which is a credit to Haley Patty and the defensive unit behind her.
Both pitchers went the distance as Yingst struck out five and Patty mowed down four Covington batters - a season high for Covington.
But in the end Covington improved to 16-0 in a game between two neighboring rivals that showcased outstanding pitching and defense.
And if they had charged admission, everyone would have gotten their money's worth.
SCORING BY INNINGS:
Covington ….. 2 .. 0 .. 0 .. 1 .. 0 .. 0 .. 1 - 4 - 8 - 0
Bradford ……. 0 .. 0 .. 0 .. 0 .. 0 .. 0 .. 0 - 0 - 5 - 1