Covington and Munford have played each other in the high school softball season opener for several years in a row and it’s always a great way to get things started.
A large crowd showed up as usual and their were a lot of familiar faces on hand, but on a perfect night weather-wise everything felt a little special in light of last season being cancelled.
Covington won 6-0, but the bigger story was the resumption of spring sports under relatively normal circumstances.
“You only get four high school seasons,” said Covington junior Anna Gover, who was 2 for 4 with three RBIs. “You make so many memories in one. To have one taken away was devastating so we’re all very excited to be out here.”
“It honestly feels amazing,” said Covington senior Lauren Vickery, who pitched a complete game shutout, allowing just three hits and striking out three. “I’ve been waiting on this for so long.”
“There were excited about being out for sure,” said Munford coach Glenn Goulder.
Munford made some noise early. Jordan Wilson led off the game with a bunt single, Chloe Lowry followed with an infield single and Lexi Billings was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out.
Vickery retired the next two batters to get out of the jam and kept Munford’s offense in check the rest of the game.
“You don’t score, you don’t win,” Goulder said. “You’ve got to push some runs across. We had the bases loaded with one out in the first inning and we couldn’t push a run across. That’s not a good omen.”
“To start with, I was kind of nervous, but I had some adrenaline I had to get out,” Vickery said. “It wasn’t too bad. I just had to work myself out of it. I felt better at the end.”
“The first inning was key how she was able to wiggle out of it,” Covington coach Justus Cousar said. “You give up a couple there and it might have been a different game. They say anybody can pitch with nobody on. She’s experienced and she worked out of it. She’s got poise.”
Gover drove in a run with a ground out in the bottom of the first to give Covington a 1-0 lead. In the bottom of the fourth she led off the inning with a double. Covington loaded the bases but managed just one run in the frame when Hannah Kirby walked with the bases loaded.
Covington took control in the bottom of the fifth. Charleigh Cole reached on error, Kalynn Howard singled and Gover drove both of them in with a triple to right-center. Vickery followed her with an RBI-triple and another run scored on a wild pitch to make the score 6-0.
“I think it just took an at bat to get used to the pitching,” Gover said. “It’s been a while since we’ve seen it. Once we got adjusted I thought we did really good and produced.”
Makayla Stinnett started in the circle for Munford. She went five innings and struck out seven but took the loss.
For Covid reasons the teams did not shake hands after the game, but other than that it seemed like a normal season opener for coaches and players eager to get back on the field.
Cousar said his team made a few mistakes and struck out too much, but acknowledged it was great to get back to softball.
“It is great to be back out there and see the kids doing what they love to do,” Cousar said. “It was hard to see something like that taken away from people you care about.”