COVINGTON - The Alcovy softball team turned some heads this season, compiling a 17-12 record and advancing to the Class AAAA South State Sectional.
The Lady Tigers, who finished 9-3 in Region 4-AAAA, also earned the No. 1 seed for the region tournament.
In its first trip to the state playoffs, Alcovy posted a 1-2 record in the sectional with all three games going to extra innings.
"I am very excited about the way the season went, but, of course, we would of loved to have gone further," Alcovy coach Casey Bates said. "These kids have come a long way in the program's first three years."
When Alcovy started the season, it had five goals it wanted to accomplish. The Lady Tigers ended up accomplishing three of the five - winning more games than last year, advancing further than it ever has in the region tournament and qualifying for the state sectional.
The remaining two goals Alcovy did not meet were going to Columbus and winning the state title.
While it was definitely a team effort that got the Lady Tigers as far as they did, there were several individual standouts making it possible.
Amber Melton and Dallas Hardin were the Lady Tigers' big guns offensively with batting averages of .450 and .375.
Hardin, while not a power pitcher, did a good job in the circle getting batters to ground out to a reliable infield.
"Amber Melton was solid at third all year," Bates said. "Kelly Azar and Johnna Bagley were solid up the middle."
Bates also had the utmost confidence that Melody Belcher and Jasmine Tolen would make the plays in the outfield.
As the season progressed, Bates realized he had two players - freshman catcher Andrea Melton and freshman pitcher/infielder Caitlin Williams - who would have a tremendous impact on the team now and in the future.
"Andrea Melton came in and had to earn a spot. Once she realized that she could compete with the older girls she became one of the best catchers in the region," Bates said. "We look forward to a big future over the next three years for her. Caitlin Williams did a good job in the pitcher's circle as a freshman and we also look forward to a big future out of her."
With the team having done so much in such a short period of time, Bates is already planning on ways to take it to the next level.
One of the things he has done is schedule the team for 12 games in the summer.
"We are setting our goals high for next season and we will work hard to achieve those goals," Bates said. "All of the girls have gotten closer and have developed a family team mentality."
Manny Fils can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.