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Wright awarded slowpitch MVP

Senior left-centerfielder Stevie Ann Wright was recognized asthe Most Valuable Player on Brookhaven’s slowpitch softball team atThursday night’s awards banquet. Wright, one of two seniors on thesquad, was instrumental in helping the Lady Panthers march to theClass 5A state championship final round after starting the season0-11.

Ole Brook slowpitch coach Lisa Covington said reaching the statechampionship finals was a dream come true for her and the team. “Welost seven players from last year and I knew the season would bechallenging. We had a tough schedule and we took our lumpsearly.

“But our girls kept working hard and none of them quit,”Covington continued. “Nobody hung their heads, even when they weretaking a lot of criticism from their peers. People would ask them,’When are you going to win a game?'”

Her Lady Panthers caught fire as the season progressed and theywon their first game against West Lincoln, Covington’s high schoolalma mater. “That gave me some bragging rights. I go to church witha lot of people from West Lincoln.”

Covington said the players began believing in themselves andimproving with each game. They defeated Long Beach, Wayne Countyand Vancleave in the first three rounds of the state playoffs toreach the final round against perennial power New Hope.

Speaking to the banquet crowd, she reminded the girls about herfavorite Bible scripture, located in Psalm 27. “You have nothing tofear.”

Covington thanked the BHS Softball Booster Club for their workand enthusiastic support during the season. “We have the bestbooster club in the world.”

She also thanked the parents for allowing her to coach theirdaughters. “This is a special group. After getting a taste of thestate finals, I hope they can go back next year and beat NewHope.”

Her team finished with a 15-19 record. She said all 21 of herplayers contributed to the team’s success. “We had 21 Most Improvedwinners this year.”

Covington also complimented her three assistant coaches: ChadWalker, Mandy Vinson and Megan Case. “I couldn’t do it withoutthem. They all mean a lot to our team.”

Wright, along with freshman leftfielder Christen Benson andshortstop Erica Bridwell, were named to the Class 5A All-StateTournament Team. Benson, Wright, Bridwell, Brooke Hosick andMadeline DeLaughter were named to the all-district team.

Wright and DeLaughter were recognized as permanent teamcaptains.

The Scholastic Award went to Bridwell. Dana Herring received theHustle Award. Benson received the Offensive Award and Bridwellearned the Defensive Award.

The Never-Say-Die Award was shared by Carlee Ballard, EmilyFreeman, Rashana Stewart, Desiree Benson and Shareka Hill.

Wright and Desiree Benson, the two senior members of the team,presented the coaches with special gifts. Each coach also receivedan autographed softball.

At the end of the program, Covington’s assistants presented herwith a large, glass enclosed picture frame displaying highlights ofthe season in pictures and newspaper clippings.

“Softball is a lot like life,” said Covington as the programconcluded. “Sometimes you strike out and then you get a hit thenext time at bat. God has a plan for each of you girls. I feelblessed to have this coaching job.”

Covington and her husband, Gary, are expecting the arrival of ababy girl in mid April. They are the parents of three daughters,the oldest age 11.