EHS off to best start in five years

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By Tommie Kendall

For the first time in five years, the Eminence softball team started the season with a win and won two games in the opening week. It was just the start first-year head coach Bill Covington was looking for.

The Lady Warriors beat Kentucky Country Day (13-6) last Wednesday night, lost to Waggener (23-11) on Thursday and beat Whitefield Academy (14-4) on Saturday for a 2-1 record after week one. It was the best start since 2005 when the Warriors were 2-0 through the first week and finished with a 6-13 overall record.

Covington took over the program from Chris Nethery and appears to have his young squad primed to win more games as the season progresses. He describes 2010 as a rebuilding year but also wants his players to improve on last year’s 3-14 record and have fun along the way. Winning two games in the first week now makes finishing with more than three wins and enjoying the season much more likely.

“I’m very, very happy. The girls are just working so hard,” Covington said. “The attitude is great, they want to be successful, and I’m just thrilled with what they’re doing so far.”

In the season opener last Wednesday against KCD, which was also Covington’s first game in charge, the Lady Warriors never trailed and won 13-6. Eminence finished with 13 combined hits and got solid play — both offensively and defensively — from center fielder Candace Wells, catcher Kelsey Craigmyle, first baseman Cailee Plemmons and pitcher Brenna Raisor.

Plemmons, the lone senior, got a big double to help spark the Warriors. Raisor pitched the complete game, and was backed by a team that committed just three errors during the seven innings.

“We played really well for our first time out,” Covington said. “It was a happy bus ride home for our girls. They were just thrilled that they were able to start off the season like that. They felt really good about themselves.”

The following night, on Thursday, the Lady Warriors hosted Waggener in what was their one letdown of the first week in a 23-11 loss. Visiting Waggener scored seven runs in the seventh inning to pull away to the 12-run victory. Based on that final inning, the game was much closer than it appeared on paper.

Eminence was ahead 6-4 midway through the contest before falling apart in the later stages of the game. Waggener, a 3-A squad that starts six seniors, eventually went ahead 16-11 and added seven more runs in its final bat.

Finishing with 12 errors, Eminence committed four in the seventh alone.

“I was really disappointed with our defense. Basically, we just gave them the game,” said Covington, who pointed out this was a winnable game. “I was also disappointed with our base running. We made some mistakes around the bases that really cost us in a few innings.”

Bouncing back from the loss, the Lady Warriors beat Whitefield Academy on Saturday at home. Eminence won 14-4 in five innings.

Eminence was trailing 4-0 after two innings but did not allow Whitefield another run and pulled away to the 14-4 victory to end the game with the mercy-run rule. Eminence had 12 hits, led by big ones from Wells, Craigmyle and Cara Kapps.

“It was much better than that Waggener game,” Covington said. “We started out a little shaky but our defense tightened up and we got some big hits.”

After the 2-1 start, the Lady Warriors hosted Frankfort on Tuesday night and will travel to Williamstown this Thursday. According to Covington, his first week as the head coach was a success. The one area his team needs to improve in is starting out games ready to go instead of playing tight.

“It seems like we’re coming out a little nervous and tight in the first few innings and I’m not sure why that is,” Covington said. “I’m trying to get the girls to relax and have fun. We’re trying to build this program but I’m emphasizing to them the importance of going out there and having a good time.”

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