By Rob Kiser
It was two softball teams at the opposite end of the spectrum emotionally after Russia continued it momentum with a 13-6 win over Covington in non-conference softball action Friday.
“It is has been a long time since Russia beat Covington,” Russia coach Michelle Muhlenkamp said with a big smile after the win. “I think you saw some pent up excitement in the dugout. Our seniors have taken some tough losses from Covington, so they were pretty excited.”
Covington coach Mechelle Heitkamp couldn’t have been more disappointed — and she knew her team was in trouble before the game ever started.
“The girls were goofing around a little bit in the dugout,” Heitkamp said. “I had to get them together to get focused. We just weren’t focused. Honestly, I have never seen them play (on defense) like they did tonight. We just weren’t ready to play.”
And Russia clearly was, scoring seven runs in its first two at bats.
In a four run first inning, Lauren Monnin, Maria Herron and Grace Saunders all singled to load the bases with one out.
After Claudia Counts fielder’s choice scored a run, pitcher Maddie Borchers helped herself with a two-run single and Jenna Cordonnier slugged a double to make it 4-0.
Single by Covington’s Justice Warner and starting pitcher Kenzie Long in the home first led to a two-run single by Sarah Hubbard to cut the deficit in half.
Emma Dammeyer relieved Long in the second and Russia tacked on three more runs.
Lexi Monnin and Lauren Monnin drew one-out walks, Herron drilled a two-run single and Saunders followed with a RBI double to make it 7-2.
“We have been waiting for this,” Muhlenkamp said. “It was everybody tonight (at the plate). Not one or two people. It was a team victory and that is something we thrive on.”
Mckenna Gostomsky singled and scored on Ashley Cecil’s bunt in the second for Covington and Cecil singled and came around to score on Kenzie Long’s single in the fourth to get Covington within 7-4.
Then, Jenna Cordonnier made two big plays for the Raiders.
First, she homered over the centerfield fence in the fifth to make it 8-4 — then with Covington having two runners on and no out in the sixth, she turned a double play. She fielded a one-hopper, tagged the runner going to second and threw to first to complete the double play and the Lady Buccs would not score.
“The great thing is Jenna (Cordonnier) is only a sophomore,” Muhlenkamp said. “She is a tremendous softball player.”
Russia, would then break things open with five runs in the seventh to make it 13-4 — before Covington countered with two runs in the bottom of the inning.
Cordonnier reached on an error and pinch-hitter Mishaylee O’Reilly had a single.
Lexi Monnin’s fielder’s choice scored a run, Herron had a RBI single, Saunders had a two-run single and Borchers capped the scoring with a RBI single.
“We talked about the fact we needed to get some runs,” Muhlenkamp said. “Had the scored been 8-6 (in the bottom of the inning after Covington scored two runs), I am sure that would have given Covington a lot of momentum.”
Hubbard had a RBI double after Kenzie Long singled and came around to score when Gostomsky reached on an error for the final outcome.
Herron, who had four hits for Russia, threw one runner out stealing and could have thrown two more out if Russia could have made the tags.
“Maria (Herron) just hits the ball and does a great job behind the plate,” Muhlenkamp said. “Catcher is not even the position she plays in the summer. She just catches for us. She is a great player.”
Now, both teams need to focus on big games.
Russia, 13-4 and unbeaten in the SCAL, plays Jackson Center Monday, while Covington, 11-5, hosts Newton Monday in a matchup of CCC unbeatens.
“That’s why we have got to get our focus back,” Heitkamp said.
Like Russia had from the start Friday.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.