By Rob Kiser
COVINGTON — When the going is tough, the tough team get going.
So, when the Covington softball team found itself trailing 4-0 in the first inning with no outs, the Lady Buccs didn’t bat an eye.
Powered by the “Long” ball and speed on the base paths, the Lady Buccs rolled to a 17-6 victory in six innings.
Covington, 16-8, gets a rematch with Newton in the sectional title game at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Greenville. Newton won the regular season meeting 7-6.
“Our girls have handled situations pretty well all year,” Covington coach Mechelle Heitkamp said. “My main concern was just getting on the board in the bottom of the first and putting some runs up and we did that.”
Singles by Justice Warner, Emma Dammeyer and Kenzie Long in the first got Covington on the board.
Then, Covington executed a double steal perfectly, with Dammeyer beating the throw home to make it 4-2.
After Makenna Gostomsky reached on an error in the third, Ashley Cecil doubled her in to make it 4-3 and set up a memorable third inning.
Kenzie Long, a freshman led off the inning with a home run.
“I had been struggling at the plate a little, so that was big for me to get that home run,” she said. “I got the pitch I was looking for and hit it good.”
Two batters late, her sister — senior Lexie Long — launched a shot off the batting cage in the leftfield to put Covington up 5-4 and the Lady Buccs never looked back.
“I wasn’t thinking about it (matching her sister),” Lexie said with a smile. “Because, when I try too hard, that doesn’t work out too good. It felt good when I hit it. I knew it was out.”
Warner added a RBI singled in the inning and Morgan Studebaker scored on a wild pitch to make it 7-4.
But, the highlight was the sisters homering in the same inning.
“How cool is that for sisters to do that in the same inning,” Heitkamp said with a big smile. “What a great moment for them. How often does something like that happen?”
Covington then exploded for eight runs in the fourth to make it 15-4.
It was a combination of small ball — a bunt single by Kara Schaffer and two infield singles — and another “Big Fly” from Kenzie Long, a three-run homer to centerfield.
“No, I wasn’t thinking about that,” Kenzie said with a laugh about topping her sister. “It just felt good to hit two home runs.”
Kenzie Long combined with her sister Lexie on a four-hitter.
She pitched six innings after entering with no outs in the first, striking out five and walking three.
“Basically, I felt like there was a lot of game left,” Kenzie Long said about entering the game in the first trailing 4-0. “As the game went on, it gave me confidence.”
The only thing Heitkamp felt she needed. Long struck out the side in the first and took it from there.
“One of the main reasons I didn’t start her was she has been lacking confidence and struggling to throw strikes,” Heitkamp said. “Kenzie (Long) went in there tonight and she just shined.”
Morgan Holscher, who hit a two-run homer in the first for Fort Loramie to make it 4-0 after two walks and a RBI single by Megan Koppin, extended the game in the fifth.
After Aleah Frilling walked and Abby Holthaus singled, she lined a single to right field and it skipped by the outfielder, allowing both runs to score and make it 15-6.
All that did was set up Covington’s Emma Dammeyer for a fitting finish.
After Cecil hit her second double of the game, Dammeyer hit a walk-off two-run homer to make the final 17-6.
“That was a beautiful swing by Emma (Dammeyer),” Heitkamp said. “I feel like she had been overswinging a little and had some at bats that she wasn’t happy with. That was great to see.”
While the Newton game is hard to overlook, Covington needs a win Saturday in a makeup game with Franklin Monroe to keep alive hopes of sharing the CCC title. The Buccs trail National Trail by one game.
“Right now, our focus is on Saturday’s game with Franklin Monroe,” Heitkamp said. “Obviously, the kids were hoping to have an opportunity to play Newton again and hopefully it will be a different outcome this time.”
Lexie Long knows they are capable.
“When we play like we can, this team can play some really good softball,” she said.
Especially, when they are hitting the “Long” ball.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.