I still remember the interview.
I’ve got the soundbites and recordings saved in my phone’s voice recorder. I asked Tyler Williams, one of The Covington News’ sports writers during my tenure as sports editor —who covered Miranda Lamb's 2018 promotion to head softball coach at Alcovy — to send it to me. Sometimes I liked having those in my audio Rolodex. Never know when you may need to revisit a good interview — even if you weren’t the one doing it.
Yes, I’m sort of a pack rat when it comes to things I’m passionate about — journalism being one of them.
I’m also passionate about comeback stories. You know, the big, obvious sappy ones. The ones that defy the logic of the so-called experts. The ones they write movies about.
We’re talking Rocky Balboa-Ivan Drago. Hoosiers. Remember-The-Titans type stuff.
I’m not sure if anyone’s going to make a movie about the Alcovy Tigers softball program, but if someone had happened to follow the Tigers from June 2018 until, well, Thursday night to be specific, they’d definitely have one helluva highlight video.
Somewhere in that video should be a voice over of Lamb waxing prophetic two whole months before her first game as Alcovy’s head softball coach.
“I hope that we become a winning program again,” Lamb said at the time. “We have the talent this year to do that, so hopefully we can be successful in that. We also need to get girls who come to Alcovy wanting to come try out for softball.”
Mission accomplished, as of Thursday night.
That’s when Lamb and her 2022 Tigers squad went to big, bad Woodward Academy and did what wouldn’t even have been deemed as unthinkable four years ago. Not only did Alcovy best Woodward in a 6-3 win on the road, it swept its tallest hurdle toward a Region 3-AAAAAA title and dethroned a school that, for two years before Lamb took the reins at Alcovy, had fewer wins (30) than the Tigers had losses (37).
RELATED COVERAGE: Regular season sweep of Woodward brings Tigers closer to region crown.
That’s saying something considering how Woodward Academy seems to be a powerhouse at, well, everything.
But Thursday night, it was Lamb’s Tigers flexing all the muscle.
As sports editor Phillip B. Hubbard reported, the win put Alcovy solely atop the region standings while boasting an 11-0 region record with just three region games — a doubleheader against Jonesboro Tuesday and a Thursday showdown with Rockdale — remaining. It’s also the only team in the region Woodward could not beat.
If you’re wondering why that’s a big deal, just take a peek at the Tigers’ last two win-loss counts prior to Lamb starting her tenure. The Tigers finished 4-16 in 2017 and 1-21 in 2016. Kelli Wesley was the coach in 2017 with Lamb as an assistant, and you could see the improvement begin.
But there was a sharp turn in the trajectory in 2018. Lamb’s first season at the helm ended with the team’s first winning record in three years. A 13-12 mark and a return trip to the state tournament. The next two seasons (11-14 and 5-16) were tough although last year’s bunch made it back to the state tournament for the first time since year one.
But in year four, the comeback story feels more complete.
Lamb will, no doubt, tell you that there’s still much more season to be played. That’s what good coaches do. But the postseason is coming soon, starting with the region tournament Oct. 10-13.
Odds are Alcovy and Woodward will meet again. If the Tigers can best the War Eagles one more time, they’ll not only have guaranteed a second straight state tournament berth. They’ll pull up as the No. 1 seed.
If the playoffs were to begin Friday, Alcovy would be hosting Dunwoody (10-11, currently fourth place in Region 4-AAAAAA), which is the region the Tigers would be paired with in the state tournament.
Given where the program was, that has to feel good to a coach who made it her early ambition to bring Tiger softball back to respectability.
Oh, you did know that Alcovy softball wasn’t always moribund, right? From at least 2012 (according to MaxPreps) through 2015, the Tigers were a state tournament mainstay with region championship pedigree. The 2012 squad finished 27-4-1 overall while claiming the top spot in Region 2-AAAAAA.
In 2014 and 2015 they finished undefeated in the region. They advanced to the state tournament during that entire stretch, getting to the second round several times. In the next couple of years that followed, a region shift contributed to some of Alcovy’s misfortunes. Tougher teams. Further distances to travel. It wasn’t easy.
So when, in 2019 after her first season, Lamb said “It’s time” to go back to the state tournament, you had to believe her because softball success wasn’t something foreign to the program.
I left the area for another job before that 2019 season finished, yet I rooted for Covington sports teams from afar. So it’s exciting for me to come back to the area just in time to see Alcovy do what, for a while, seemed so out of reach for this program.
Kudos to coach Lamb and the entire program for a made-for-TV-like 2022 season that still has a few more scenes to go. Here’s hoping we’ve still got plenty of opportunities to watch this team of destiny at work in prime time.
Gabriel Stovall is editor and publisher of The Covington News. You can reach him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @GabrielCStovall.