|2018 LADY BUCCS SOFTBALL...
Even with a small roster, the Covington Lady Buccs have a lot of returning talent to challenge for the league and a deep tournament run under first-year coach Phil Smith.
COVINGTON - The Cross County Conference is one of the better conferences around when it comes to softball and Covington has traditionally been one of the premier teams in the league year in and year out.
So despite losing a very talented senior class from an 18-9 team that finished 9-3 in the CCC and reached the district final a year ago, first-year coach Phil Smith has plenty to work with to challenge in the league and make another deep tournament run.
But, with just 12 players on the roster, staying healthy in 2018 will be a huge factor.
Three seniors return for Covington with Noelle Gast, Sarah Hubbard and Emma Dammeyer. Gast has experience behind the plate, while Hubbard has been a mainstay at short and Dammeyer has excelled in the circle and in the outfield.
Juniors Chelsea Ford and Makenna Gostomsky bring speed to the lineup and both have experience in the outfield and the infield, while sophomores Morgan Studebaker, Kenzie Long, Laylyn Kemp and Kirsti Barnes also return.
Three freshmen join the ranks in 2018 in Bethany Weldy, Rai Reed and Haylie Jackson. Each will look to contribute to the depth of the roster in 2018.
Smith, who takes over for Michelle Heitkamp from a year ago, has previous experience with some of the Covington athletes through coaching travel ball. This will hopefully ease the transition to a new philosophy - a philosophy revolved around developing outstanding student/athletes.
"We want to motivate the players to do well in the classroom," Smith said. "On the field we want to keep them healthy and reach the regionals."
As usual, Covington's regular season schedule is a challenge and should prepare the Lady Buccs for the post-season. The league schedule is brutal, as always, with every team in the league a threat - while the non-conference slate is as tough as it gets.
Covington will be tested early in the season at the Celina Invitational and then a road trip to Mintser two days later. Russia, Kenton Ridge, Indian Lake, New Bremen and Eaton also provide stiff competition, while a weekend in the Newton Classic is a mid-season test for the Lady Buccs.
Still, there are high expectations for another exciting and successful season of Lady Buccs Softball.