COVINGTON, Ga. - Four years ago, Alcovy High School made a change at the helm of its softball program.
Miranda Lamb was hired to lead the Lady Tigers into a brighter future.
Joining her as newcomers to the team were four freshmen: Lexie McDonald, Kayla Lovelace, Danyel Vandiver and Emma Mercer.
Since these five individuals came on the scene, Alcovy didn’t have a single playoff appearance. That all changed on Tuesday, Oct. 12 when the Lady Tigers traveled to Lee County High School for round 1 of the Class 6A playoffs.
Playing in the first round ended a 5-year absence from the postseason.
Aiming for a playoff berth was something Lamb and the Lady Tigers had at the top of their priority list on day one of their time together.
“We started off with a goal when [the seniors] were freshmen to make it to the playoffs,” Lamb said. “That finally came to fruition and the hard work those four seniors have put in has not gone unnoticed.”
McDonald is one of the four seniors. She, along with her three fellow seniors, dedicated her entire effort and determination to the softball program at Alcovy.
Whether it’s been hitting or pitching, McDonald has made tremendous contributions to help lead the Lady Tigers back to the postseason.
Even after hearing the news and playing in the games, McDonald could hardly describe the feeling that overcame her on Oct. 12.
“It was like a rush went through my body,” McDonald said. “Everyone was so pumped up from the ride down there to the end of the last game.”
Each senior’s determination to reach this destination has been an inspiration to the underclassmen who’ll now follow in their footsteps.
As a freshman on this year’s squad, Kaitlyn Williams feels energized to continue the work each senior has started.
There were many moments Williams will never forget from playing in the postseason. But, she stressed that it was the entire experience that she’ll remember.
“It was a great bonding experience on the bus ride down there before we even got to play,” Williams said. “Even though the score may not look like it, we gave Lee County our best. We didn’t even play an easy team. They were No. 1 in their region.”
Additionally, another underclassmen recalled what it was like experiencing postseason softball for the first time.
Makinzie Johnson, a sophomore, noticed a certain shift in herself and teammates once game 1 commenced.
She admitted there were extra nerves heading into the matchup, but something changed when the Lady Tigers trotted onto the field for the first time.
“Once we started playing the game we love, it all started clicking,” Johnson said. “It felt like a family and it was all fun.”
Now that the 2021 season has ended, the Lady Tigers shift their focus to what’s next.
With postseason experience now under most of the players’ belt, they now plan to use it to improve in the future.
WIlliams, specifically stressed that, even though the final results weren’t in Alcovy’s favor, doesn’t mean they missed their target.
“The whole season, we talked about changing the culture at Alcovy,” Williams said. “We wanted to go down there and make a statement. It was a great challenge and I’m excited to build for the future.”
During the playoff matchup, Johnson said she learned a very important lesson to never give up in spite of the odds that are against her.
Johnson noticed that her teammates seemed to adopt that same mantra of never giving up.
“I think we, as a team, had the mindset to just leave it all out there [against Lee County],” Johnson said. “We planned to give it all we got. I know that we did our best and left it all out there.”
And that they did.
Despite entering the bracket as a No. 4 seed facing a No. 1 seed, the Lady Tigers strived to remain competitive.
Particularly in the first game, the Lady Tigers scored two runs in the final inning while trailing 5-0. Then, through the first four innings of game two, Alcovy found itself tied with Lee County 1-1.
It was noticeable that the Lady Tigers didn’t just go down to Lee County to participate.
McDonald expressed deep appreciation for her time as a Lady Tigers when everything was said and done.
She’s proud to be a part of the class to lead Alcovy back to a high profile stage.
“It’s very special to play in the playoffs,” McDonald said. “We spent four years in this program and we did it in our senior year making it to state.”
Be that as it may, Lamb and the Lady Tigers aspire to not let another five years pass by before they’re in the playoffs again.
That preparation to return and set up a deeper run in the 2022 playoffs will begin shortly. The Lady Tigers don’t plan on going anywhere soon.
According to Lamb, it’ll be the players’ “competitive spirit” that’ll make Alcovy softball a force to be reckoned with in the near future.
“My freshmen and sophomores know what those seniors have gone through over the past four years to get them where we were,” Lamb said. “And I think that’s why they wanted to compete. My kids brought their A game on Tuesday. With that, I think Alcovy will be competitive for the next few years.”