LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- Entering their first year in the tough USA South Athletic Conference, the Covenant softball team tallied five more victories than a season ago. The Lady Scots finished the year with an 11-27 overall record.
"This was a more quality year," said head coach Sara Russell. "We did take a stride forward. I was definitely hoping to come out with more wins than we did, however there were good things happening in the games."
Leading the way this season was sophomore Morgan Lane and freshman Jordan Brett. The duo each earned a spot on the All-USA South second team. Lane batted an even .400 with three homers and 30 RBIs, including a seven-RBI and five-hit game against Sewanee in March.
Brett came on strong in the second half of the season and finished with a .419 batting average, four home runs and 33 RBIs, all team-highs. Brett, who was named USA South Rookie of the Week on April 7, will enter next season with a 12-game hitting streak, which is tied for the program record.
As a team, Covenant hit .307 which is the second highest mark in program history. The Lady Scots also set new program single game records with 24 hits and eight doubles in a 23-6 rout of Sewanee on March 13.
The Lady Scots suffered two defeats at regional-power Berry to open the season before sweeping Mount St. Joseph in the home opener. Other non-conference victories would come over Sewanee and Wesleyan (four times).
The USA South provided some stiff competition all season long. The conference boasted a top 15 team in Piedmont and several other squads that had both strong pitching and hitting.
Covenant earned its first USA South triumph on the road at William Peace on March 8. A few days later, the Lady Scots swept rival Maryville on the road. In the doubleheader sweep, senior Lauren Johns briefly set the program record for RBIs in a single game with seven. Lane would tie the record just two days later at Sewanee.
The Lady Scots played tough against other USA South competition, including Piedmont, but would not find the win column in league play again until Senior Day when they routed Mary Baldwin 15-6 in the second game of a doubleheader.
"We had our first taste of the USA South and for softball the conference is very challenging," added Russell, who completed her sixth year as head coach.
Covenant will lose seniors Johns, Chandler Shepherd and Meagan Hess. Johns wrapped up her career with a .369 batting average with a homer and 23 RBIs. Shepherd tied the school record for longest hitting streak of 12 and hit .275 for the season. Hess provided good defense at second base and had a .303 on-base percentage.
Sophomore Madison Quirk batted over .300 for a second straight year as she finished with a .328 average with a homer and 23 RBIs. Fellow sophomore Kendall Whann produced a solid .287 average with 12 RBIs, while junior Morgan Strennen played in 37 games and led with team with 10 walks.
In the circle, junior Cori Hilt led the team with six victories and 18 complete-games. Hilt threw 128.1 innings and struck out 62. Sophomore Hannah Rogers picked up five wins and had 11 complete-games.
Newcomers Kaitlyn Sirmons and Nicole White showed promise during their rookie campaigns. Sirmons started in 36 games and batted .243 with five doubles, while White appeared in 28 games and tallied three doubles and eight RBIs. Anna Verwey also saw playing time as she batted .375 in seven games.
Looking to the 2015 season, Russell likes the mix of returning players and incoming recruits as the team continues to build into a contender.
Added Russell, "As far as next year we are extremely excited about the talented recruits that we have coming in. We will have some young players in key positions and we have some strong talent returning. We will not only raise our overall talent level and add depth."
USA South Rookie of the Week
Jordan Brett - April 7
USA South All-Conference
Morgan Lane - 2nd team
Jordan Brett - 2nd team
Hannah Rogers - All-Sportsmanship
USA South Sportsmanship Award