|2016 COVINGTON LADY BUCCS...
The Covington Lady Buccs look to reload after yet another succesful season and significant losses to graduation.
COVINGTON - Coming off a 27-2 overall record and an unbeaten 12-0 slate in the Cross County Conference a year ago, Covington coach Dean Denlinger finds himself in the annual position of having to "reload".
That's because the Lady Buccs lost four very talented players from a year ago to graduation - Morgan Arbogast, Cassidy Cain, Alex Gast and Jessica Dammer. That's Denlingers starting pitcher and the strength of his defense up the middle - not to mention what the foursome contributed at the plate and on the base paths.
But Denlinger "will reload" because of a philosophy that has become the staple of his program throughout his unbelievably successful tenure - a philosophy that revolves around striving to be the best.
"We want to build good 'teach and trust' relationships within the team," Denlinger said. "We strive to give one-hundred-percent every day and be the best."
And he has a stable of capable players who are hungry to carry on the Lady Bucc "Tradition of Excellence" - starting with the two seniors, Brooke Gostomsky and Arianna Richards.
Gostomsky takes her turn in the circle as the go-to pitcher, while Richards retains her familiar role behind the plate - a position where she set the table for two of the premier pitchers in the history of the program in Casey Yingst and Morgan Arbogast. Now, Richards looks to set her senior classmate and close friend up for similar success.
A very strong junior class returns for Covington with the likes of Justice Warner, Allison Babylon, Lexie Long, Kara Schaffer, Addison Metz, Megan Alexander and Ashley Cecil. All have significant varsity experience behind them and will be counted on with increased responsibilities this season.
The sophomore class or Emma Dammeyer, Taylor Ray, Sarah Hubbard and Noelle Gast will all be expected to step up their games to help fill the void from those lost to graduation.
Plus, the addition of freshmen Makenna Gostomsky, Chelsea Ford and Kirsten Fries adds more speed and softball talent to the roster.
In a nutshell, the cupboard is not bare at Covington by any means. Still, new challenges are on the horizon as the Cross County Conference is one of the toughest leagues around when it comes to fastpitch softball.
But even with the challenge of reloading, Denlinger expects to be a force once again in the very competitive CCC.
"This is a very strong league with a lot of parity in softball and I expect it to be that way again this year," Denlinger said. "We want to finish strong in the league - establish a good positive team identity and strong preparation for the tournament."
And hopefully a season that extends well into June.