By Rob Kiser
Miami Valley Today
COVINGTON — After two seasons building toward this spring, the Covington baseball team was ready to shine — just like its field on the Covington High School campus.
Then, the coronavirus hit.
Practices came to a screeching halt and put the season in doubt, where it remains today.
Third-year coach Andy Johnson — who was a longtime assistant before getting the job just before the start of the 2018 season — and his team had gone through two seasons where wins weren’t plentiful, but his young teams were building towards what would appear to be a breakout season.
With all of Ohio’s schools closed until at least May 1 on the order of Governor Mike DeWine to slow the spread of the pandemic caused by the coronavirus, COVID-19, the Ohio High School Athletic Association delayed the beginning of the spring sports season. Baseball season was scheduled to begin on March 28, but now it’s on hold indefinitely until the schools are back in session.
Last season ended with a 5-4 heartbreaking loss to third-seeded Cedarville in the second round of the Division IV sectional tournament.
“I think after that game, the kids finally realized just how talented they were,” Johnson said. “We were going to have a really good team this year.”
Adding to the frustration was the Buccaneers were going to be showing off a fresh-looking diamond this year, full of improvements.
Among those things that would have been on display include a redone infield, new pitching mound and home plate, new bullpens, a new backstop and backstop pad, new dugout fences, new batting cage and new bat/helmet rack.
“We also have new uniforms,” Johnson said. “This was going to be pretty big year for Covington baseball and now, nobody gets to see any of that. It is very frustrating.”
Johnson feels particularly bad for seniors Colton Francis and Stephen Sporek.
“It is frustrating for them,” he said. “With it being their senior season. It is really frustrating for everyone. I have been staying in touch with them, making sure everyone is OK and sending them drills they can work on at home. But, most of my guys don’t have access to (any equipment) at home,”
Johnson hasn’t completely given up hope on the season.
“As long as the OHSAA hasn’t postponed the season, I am still holding out hope,” he said.
For now, the Buccs, like everyone else are playing the waiting game — hoping for an opportunity to shine in 2020.
Contact Rob Kiser at [email protected].
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