APRIL 16, 2016 - COVINGTON
The scoreboard doesn't always tell the true story about how a team plays.
For example, in the last three games the Covington Lady Buccs have beaten Milton Union 10-0, Miami East 13-1 and National Trail 13-4. But in each victory, Covington coach Dean Denlinger has been very critical of his team's play and his own decision making as head coach.
Mental errors and a lack of focus from the players on the field and every single person in the dugout (coaches included) began to wear on Denlinger as the expectations of Covington softball is always at an all-time high.
But on Saturday, state ranked Kenton Ridge came to town for a double-header between two teams with just one loss each on their records. Kenton Ridge's lone loss was to Northwestern, the number two ranked team in the state, which made Denlinger giddy with anticipation prior to the game.
"We'll find out what we are made of," he said under his breath prior to the game.
And the coach found out his team has some fight, some grittiness and some toughness as the Lady Buccs split the double header by playing the style of softball the Covington program has been noted for Denlinger's tenure.
"Last night (against National Trail) we didn't look like Covington," said Denlinger. "Today - well, we looked like Covington."
Covington lost the first game 5-1, but Denlinger seemed more proud of his team in a losing effort than he has all year.
That's because Kenton Ridge jumped all over Covington with four runs in the top of the first inning, but the Lady Buccs' confidence and resiliency never wavered as the game was evening played over the remaining six innings.
"We got down four to nothing in the first inning, but the girls played their butts off," Denlinger said. "That's a really, really good softball team we played and our girls battled the whole way."
Covington's lone run came on a home run by Lexie Long in the bottom of the seventh, but Denlinger felt his team played right with Kenton Ridge.
"We popped up twelve times and only struck out three times in the first game," he said. "Their pitcher is as good as we've seen all year and they are very athletic on defense. I talked to the girls in between games about staying aggressive at the plate and sooner or later we would break through."
Which is what Covington did in the second game as it plated a run in the bottom of the second.
Kenton Ridge responded with a run in the top of the third, but saw several more potential runs nullified by the Covington defense.
"We threw two runners out at the plate and another runner out at third," Denlinger explained. "We made a lot of plays on defense today - plays we haven't made over the last few games."
With the game tied at 1-1 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, Sarah Hubbard led off the inning with a double and freshman Makenna Gostomsky was inserted as a pinch runner to put more speed on the base paths.
Shortly thereafter, junior Allison Babylon took a three-one pitch and drilled it into the gap for a walk-off RBI double - scoring Gostomsky.
"I told Zip (Babylon) to stay aggressive and if you see a pitch you like, hit it," Denlinger explained. "We are aggressive by nature. That's just the way we play."
Babylon's offensive heroics at the end of the game overshadowed her performance in the circle in the second game as she went the distance in recording her first win of the season - which came against a state ranked team.
"Zip threw a great game," praised Denlinger. "Yes, they had thirteen hits, but she made them earn it. Our defense played lights out and made some plays behind her."
Brooke Gostomsky went the distance in the first game, but saw an outstanding effort result in a loss.
"Brooke threw well too," said Denlinger. "That was one of her better games this year, but that team hits the ball very well. They have a lot of pop and speed up and down the lineup."
At the end of the day Covington's record stands at 12-2 on the season.
But even with its second loss of the season, the Lady Buccs showed what they are made of.
GAME ONE SCORE BY INNINGS:
Kenton Ridge - 4 0 0 0 1 0 0 - 5 - 10 - 0
Covington - 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 - 1 - 5 - 0
GAME TWO SCORING BY INNINGS:
Kenton Ridge - 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 - 1 - 13 - 1
Covington - 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 - 2 - 9 - 1