By Jeremy McDonald
MEDFORD, Ore.– Right as the rain arrived at the US Cellular Fields in South Medford, McNary Senior Abbi Covalt sent out a second-pitch three-run homerun for the NW Vandals 18G-Scott’s squad in their 2-1 day in the USA Softball Fall Classic.
It was one of four hits that Covalt had on the day and three of her seven RBI’s she collected in an area that she’ll soon will be calling home next school year at Southern Oregon University. In a area of the State she grew to love.
“I absolutely love Medford and Ashland. I absolutely love the region,” said Covalt. “The whole culture from Southern Oregon softball, I love being here. It’s just excited and it’s a taste of where I’m going to be and I’m really excited for it.”
The Raiders have become a National-power in recent years, earning 50-plus wins in each of 2018 (51-15) and 2019 (52-8) with a 46-15 record in 2017. Winning the Cascade Collegiate Conference in 2016, 2017 and 2019 as well as reaching the NAIA World Series the past between 2017 and 2019, winning in 2019.
SOU was 23-3 to start 2020 before the Coronavirus Pandemic canceled the season, ending a promising season to get back to the World Series one more time in the new decade. But Covalt is ready to embrace the challenges that comes with that success when she arrives at SOU.
“I’m ready to work really hard, I feel like it’s a big part of my personality is that I’m going to grind every day and it’s what they do. I’m about it, I’m excited,” said Covalt, who was a second-team All-Mountain Valley Conference her sophomore year.
During Saturday’s pool play in South Medford, the Vandals battled through the elements of rain, wind and an occasional sun break as they picked up wins against the Rampage Silver Vancouver (11-3) and Oregon Rebels-Hendrickson 16U (13-5) before falling late to the Hype 4-2. The bats produced eight hits, but didn’t really produced runs as it did earlier in the day.
“I thought we did a good job hitting the ball places and taking advantage of overthrows and the situations we used to our favor,” said Covalt. “I thought it was hard on our pitchers (with the elements), but all of our pitchers did a good job with what they had. I thought we did a good job working with it. Kind of the same thing on offense, you just got to go with what you got.”
KJ Custer drove in 4RBI’s on 4-for-7 hitting. Central Catholic’s Ally Hyde struck out six and West Salem’s Aliyah Wiltsey struck out five Saturday.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald