by Matt Wright
The Lakeland Prep baseball team battled against Covington in an epic showdown on a warm and sunny Wednesday afternoon yesterday on the Prep campus, resulting in a nail-biting 2-1 win for the Lions in extra innings. While the game was certainly a momentous victory for the Lions, the true heroics occurred off the field with a fund drive held to aid the victims of the recent devastating tornados that ravaged the Covington community.
Fans who eagerly arrived to witness the budding rivalry between the two teams were asked to leave their wallets at home and instead contribute food items or goods towards the cause. According to volunteers, approximately $1,500 in donations was raised. The tension was palpable as family and students came in excited to see the intense match-up between the two teams and eager to contribute to the relief efforts.
The game itself was a rollercoaster of emotions, with eighth-grader Will Britt taking the mound for the Lions and pitching four shutout innings. Britt faced a moment of crisis in the third inning when the Covington catcher, Braylon Turner, hit a triple to right center field. However, Britt dug deep and with the help of Lakeland Prep’s strong defense, managed to work his way out of the jam, leaving the runner stranded on third base to end the inning. The Lions managed to score a run in the first inning, providing a promising start for their offense, but they faltered on other opportunities throughout the game. In the bottom of the fourth inning, freshman Jack McDaniel led off with a single, but the Lions were unable to capitalize and extend their lead.
Eight-grader Ryan Pitts took the mound for the Lions in the fifth inning and delivered a strong pitching performance, only giving up one earned run in three innings. At the end of seven innings, which is what high school baseball games are scheduled for, the game was tied 1-1.
The see-saw game continued until the bottom of the eighth inning when Will Britt led off with a triple, putting the winning run on third base with no outs. It was then another eighth-grader, catcher Brecken Boyd, seized the moment, waiting patiently for a good pitch before sending a long fly ball to center field, allowing Britt to tag and score, clinching the game for the Lions.
Despite the thrilling victory, Lakeland Prep Head Coach Chris Goodwin remained grounded and emphasized the long-term benefits the young players will gain from this experience. “If they all stick together they will be very good,” he said. However, the coach’s focus was more on the donations that would be delivered back to the residents of Covington. Coach Goodwin, who himself resides in Covington, spoke candidly about the devastation caused by the tornado, stating, “It was really bad. It missed my house by three miles but when I drove over to town after the storm I could not believe it. It was like a bomb went off.” The resources donated by the Lions and their supporters meant alot according to Coach Godwin who said he was glad Covington was seeing such great support from Lakeland.