COVINGTON, Ga. — The attitude of Alcovy softball’s four seniors seems to embody the old adage that time flies when you’re having fun.
In fact, for the Lady Tigers’ four seniors, Abby Trantham, Courtney Freeman, Lanie Knight and Corley Thacker, ‘fun’ may indeed be the operative word that best describes their collective Alcovy experience.
So fun, in fact, that as the seniors faced their first round games with Lakeside-Evans in the Region 3-AAAAAA tournament, they all expressed disbelief that their final opportunities to play with each other had already come.
“It’s happened too fast,” Thacker said. “I know it’s gonna end, but I don’t want it to end today.”
That was the sentiment expressed by all four seniors last Wednesday just minutes before they would board a bus and head to the Augusta area to take on a team they’d beaten before and would need to beat again — this time in a best-two-of-three series — in order to extend their season.
After a 7-4 game one loss to Lakeside Wednesday, the Lady Tigers got a little help from mother nature in the form of a rain-out of game two that extended their season one more day.
The Lady Tigers would fall to Lakeside 9-2 on Thursday, however, ending the four-year ride for four girls who saw four different coaches in their high school softball careers.
And while some might look upon that with disdain and regret, each of the four Alcovy seniors provided the same positive perspective on the matter.
“In a way, it’s been an amazing opportunity, and one that I’ve loved,” Knight said. “It gave us a chance to get to know the new coaches, their ins and outs, their different styles and things they bring to the game. It’s actually been a good experience.”
Both Thacker and Freeman echoed Knight’s sentiments.
“It’s been a great experience, because each coach has taught me something different about the game,” Freeman said.
Said Thacker: “I feel like we’ve had a different experience than maybe other people because we’ve had so many different people come through, and each person brought a different aspect of things regarding the game. Everybody taught me something new and showed me something different.”
That may bode well for Thacker, particularly if she decides to continue playing softball beyond high school. Thacker has offers from Brewton-Parker College and Gordon after a senior campaign that saw her batting .448 with seven doubles, a triple, a home run and 10 RBIs.
Thacker said she’s yet to make up her mind about playing collegiately, but if she does she believes her most recent coach — first year head coach Miranda Lamb — has made the most impact on her game.
“With all the other coaches that have been here, Lamb’s the one that I feel like had the most confidence in us,” Thacker said. “She’s told us that she believes in us. She’s probably been the strongest one, the best coach we’ve had all the four years I’ve been here.”
Knight, who was one of three seniors who played as freshman on the 2015 squad that went to the state playoffs — her cousin Kayla Johnson was the Tigers’ ace pitcher during that season — said she saw a lot of parallels between that team and this year’s squad. Strengths that she attributed to Lamb’s presence.
“It was kind of unexpected for her to become our head coach,” Knight said. “We knew she would be an assistant like she was last year, but we didn’t know she’d be our head coach. I love how she is. She’s younger, so she’s able to relate with the girls. She’s still laid back, but knows how to take authority. Lamb just makes softball enjoyable. She’s got a positive attitude and you can tell she wants to be out there with us which makes us want to be out there.”
Trantham also remembers that freshman state playoff season, and although the Tigers came up short this year, she too believes that the team got closer than in any other time since because of Lamb’s presence.
“She’s been pushing us like no other to do our best,” Trantham said. “She’s worked hard to help us get everything down to get us where we are.”
Alcovy finished the season 13-12 overall and 3-7 in Region 3-AAAAAA. Both marks are a vast improvement for a team that won a grand total of five games during the 2016 and 2017 seasons combined.
And although Alcovy missed the state playoffs this year, with a bevy of young talent returning for 2019 and coach Lamb at the helm, Knight believes Alcovy softball is primed for future success.
“Softball hasn’t been Alcovy’s strongest suit lately, so I think it’s been great that things have sort of started to change a bit this season,” Knight said. “I feel like Lamb has definitely helped change the feel of softball here this year.”
In addition to Thacker’s options, Freeman said she’s got her sights set on medical school while Knight is thinking of matriculating to Gwinnett College and Trantham wants to work toward being an athletic trainer. So while there’s excitement for the next level, the four seniors also expressed a little anxiety about moving on.
“It’s kind of scary for me,” Freeman said. “I’ve been at Alcovy for so long, and now I’m about to graduate and I can’t play softball anymore, so it’s just kind of nerve-racking I guess.”
Regardless of what directions they choose, all have said that they’ll walk away from Alcovy grateful for having had the opportunity to help pump some life back into the softball program, while making priceless connections along the way.
“I’ll definitely miss the friendships we’ve made,” Trantham said.
“The bonds we made, the good laughs,” Freeman said. “Those are things I’ll miss.”
For Knight, it’s traveling with the team that she’ll most remember.
“Honestly, the bus rides to and from games are probably my highlights of my time here,” Knight said. “It gave us time to goof off and just have fun with each other.”
And Thacker’s greatest memories come full circle back to here experiences with those who have tutored her and helped develop her game.
“Definitely it’s been the friendships and it’s also been the coaches,” she said. “They’ve definitely made our experience here what it’s been.”