Brookhaven Academy softball back on the field to defend state title, again

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, July 26, 2023

It’s what you want if you are a player or a coach — to have the expectations that come with winning a championship.

“Can they do it again?” the fans ask themselves.

Or in the case of the 2023 Brookhaven Academy softball team, can they do it for a third time in a row?

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The two-time defending state champs will jump into MAIS regular season play on Friday, July 28, with a trip to face Wayne Academy on the road.

Second-year head coach Lisa Covington graduated just two players from the 2022 MAIS 5A title team. And there is only one senior, Ainslee Jergins, on the roster this season.

So, with virtually everybody back on a team that finished 25-8-1 and won the 5A title with a sweep of its district rivals from Oak Forest Academy, you aren’t wrong for thinking that BA comes into the season as the favorites on paper.

And the roster got better with the transfer of former North Pike pitcher Ann Elise Duncan to the school.

A junior, Duncan helped to pitch North Pike to a MHSAA 4A runner-up finish just a few short months ago.

The Cougars are also returning junior pitcher Kensy Covington, the daughter of their head coach. Last season Covington was the MAIS 5A Player of the Year and was picked as The Daily Leader All-Area Defensive MVP after an outstanding season in the circle.

In addition to those two, the Cougars also return two more experienced arms in Maggie Rushing and Madelynn Lambert.

“We’re going to have four different pitchers that all have a different style about how they throw the ball,” said Covington. “They’re all four capable of winning us games and we’re excited about having that type of depth.”

The catcher last season was All-MAIS selection Sasha King. King is now a freshman on the team at Southwest Mississippi C.C.

Taking her place behind the plate will be junior Bailey Parks, another All-MAIS pick last year.

“Bailey is versatile, and she’s got some experience catching earlier in her career,” said Covington. “I think she’s going to do a great job behind the plate.”

Sophomore Miriam Wallace is another All-MAIS returnee in the outfield. She’ll be joined out there with two more veterans in Jergins and sophomore Alayna Daigle.

Don’t ask Covington about who’s going to play where in the infield though, because those roles might change on a game-to-game basis, depending on who is pitching.

Duncan and Covington will both factor somewhere in the infield rotation when they aren’t pitching. Sophomore Morgan Chemin is also back as an infielder. Chemin hit a team-high six home runs last season and was picked for the Daily Leader All-Area team.

Former Loyd Star and Co-Lin baseball standout Scott Poole is back in his second year as Covington’s assistant coach. Crystal Alexander will also join the staff as an assistant this season and the team’s manager will be Maggie Ray.

Last year, BA and Oak Forest met in the state title series after being in the same district. The year before, the Cougars met district foe Silliman Institute in the state championship.

An already salty division got tougher after Parklane Academy moved down from 6A and into the same district as Brookhaven Academy, Oak Forest, Silliman, Columbia Academy and Bowling Green this season.

BA opens district play on Aug. 8 at Parklane.

Covington’s team also faces stiff competition on the weekend tournaments that dot their schedule. In their first tournament of the season on Saturday at Jones College, the Cougars will face strong opponents from East Rankin and Presbyterian Christian.

The team hasn’t had to get ready that much though, as they’ve more or less stayed ready thanks to the busy schedule kept by most of the girls.

“We’ve got a lot of girls that play softball year-round on this team,” said Covington. “They have been playing travel ball throughout the summer and then we were able to get on the field and start practicing together on July 5. We started with some afternoon practices, but here lately we’ve been under the lights at night and that’s made the heat more bearable.”

The 2022 story was one of a young team that bested expectations and improved throughout the year on a run to the state championship.

In 2023, Brookhaven Academy softball isn’t going to sneak up on anyone which is something the players, coaches and fans already know.

“I’m excited about this season because of the experience we have returning and the goals that we’ve set for ourselves,” said Covington. “More than anything though I’m excited about the quality of girls we’ve got in our program. They come to practice ready to work every day and I think they’re locked in and ready to start playing.”