Softball Set to Start New Season

LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- Coming off an appearance at the 2011 NCCAA Softball World Series, the Covenant Lady Scots will open the 2012 season with a doubleheader against Great South foe Maryville College on Wednesday in Chattanooga.

The Lady Scots finished 22-14 last year and were crowned NCCAA Mid-East Region champions when they swept Oakland City in a three-game series for a berth into the NCCAA World Series.

The Lady Scots return much of the core group of players that gave the program that began playing varsity in 2008 its first shot at a national title. Headlined by ace starting pitcher Chelsea Krafft, Covenant returns six players who started nearly every game a season ago.

Krafft, a senior from Dalton, Ga., put up spectacular numbers a year ago. The right-hander was tied for fifth in the NCCAA in wins with 18 and was seventh in strikeouts per game at 7.35. Krafft punched out a total of 177 batters in 172.2 innings pitched. She also pitched 22 complete-games with four shutouts while posting an earned run average of 3.49 and allowing opponents to hit .275 against her.

While Krafft was leading the way in the pitching circle, several Lady Scots made the offense go. Left fielder and pitcher Beth Harris led Covenant in hits (44), home runs (8), runs batted in (36), and was second in batting average at .361. The LeVergne, Tenn., native slugged a team-high .664 and was proficient in getting on base when leading off an inning as she batted .525 in those situations.

Harris will have plenty of help in a lineup that head coach Sara Russell calls, "the strongest offensive lineup I have ever coached." First baseman Courtney Wagoner returns as the Lady Scots' leading hitter from a year ago when she batted .374 with three home runs and 21 RBIs. Also returning is junior Jenni Jobe who batted .342 and led Covenant with 11 doubles, 19 walks, and an on-base percentage of .490.

Rounding out the key returners is center fielder Christine Core and utility player Morgan Booker. Core, a senior who also suited up for the women's basketball team, hit .330 and was third on the team in hits with 35. The Trenton, Ga., resident swiped a team-high eight stolen bases and had 19 assists from the outfield. A junior from Stanley, La., Booker produced a .307 average with four home runs and 16 runs driven in a season ago.

Two key recruits will hope to contribute to the Lady Scots' success this season in sophomore Meagan Hess (Laurel, Md.) and freshman Cori Hilt (Altamont, N.Y.). Hess, who will play shortstop according to Russell, transferred to Covenant after a season at Washington Adventist University. Hilt will "add depth to our pitching staff and brings a solid bat as well," stated Russell.

Russell noted that this is a young team again, but that she is "looking forward to another strong season."

Covenant will begin its season with a doubleheader against Maryville College on Wednesday beginning at 5 p.m. at Warner Park in Chattanooga. The Lady Scots will then hit the road for another doubleheader on Saturday at Cumberland University starting at 2 p.m.

All home games will feature live stats through athletics.covenant.edu.