Harmony’s Kyle Covell was a sure thing on the mound
News-Gazette Photo/Andrew Sullivan
Kyle Covell set a Harmony school record with a stingy 0.67 ERA this season as he led the Longhorns to the Orange Belt Conference championship.
By Rick Pedone
After losing many senior playmakers from last year’s regional finalist, Harmony baseball Coach Mike Fields wondered in the preseason just how well his young team was going to compete.
“As always, the success of our team this year is predicated on how well our pitchers throw strikes,” Fields said.
A lack of depth on the pitching staff plagued the Longhorns most of the season, but on the days when senior Kyle Covell took the mound, Harmony was a formidable baseball team.
Covell, slight of build at 5-10, 150 pounds, was a stopper, setting the 10-year-old school’s ERA record at 0.67 and posting a 9-4 record for a team that finished the season 16-9.
He rang up 96 strikeouts over 86 innings, mixing a good curve with a surprisingly potent fastball.
Those stats alone are good enough to make Covell the Osceola News-Gazette Baseball Player of the Year, but add this: at the plate, Covell batted .400 and struck out only twice. And, when he wasn’t throwing, he was an outstanding center fielder.
“Great kid, gives you everything he has,” Fields, who announced his retirement before the season started, said. “When he goes out there (to pitch), we feel like we have a pretty good chance to win.”
Covell didn’t know that he would become the staff ace this season.
“I didn’t throw at all last year. I moved back from New York, and the first half of the season I was on the JV, then they brought me up and put me in right field, and then at second base,” he said.
But, with the Horns pitching staff depleted by graduation and transfers, Fields had to find a dependable arm. Enter Covell.
“I know I’m not blessed with a 6-foot, 190-pound plus body, but I feel like I can throw pretty well,” he said. “My fastball is probably in the mid-80s. And, knowing (catcher) Josh (Corredor) is back there helped my confidence a lot. A great catcher like Josh makes a big difference.”
Covell said he prefers swinging the bat to throwing fastballs, though.
“I’ve always liked hitting. I really like it, but I guess my pitching’s not too bad,” he said.
Being a pitcher gives Covell and edge at the plate, he said.
“Yeah, especially in recognizing the pitches,” he said.
“I compared the way the ball was coming out, the way they were holding the ball, to what I do when I’m pitching. I think that gives me a little edge.”
Covell is the only pitcher in Osceola County to beat the powerful Osceola Kowboys this season. He went six innings, giving up two runs, in an early-season eight-inning 3-2 victory.
“They have a really strong lineup. It’s tough for anyone to get those guys out,” he said. “I struggled in that one, but we were fortunate enough to hang on and win it.”
Covell pitched a 2-0 masterpiece to beat Harmony’s rival, St. Cloud, in the opening round of the district tournament.
“No way I was losing that game, not my last game as a senior,” he said. “I had a good game against St. Cloud early in the season, and then we had a rough one against them the second time. They’ve got a good team and a lot of good talent, but we weren’t going to lose to them in the district tournament. There was never a doubt about that.”
Covell said the seniors on the team anticipated that Mike Fields would end his 41-year coaching career this year.
“Yeah, the seniors had an idea, we grew up with the son (Chase Fields), so we kinda figured it out. It probably surprised some of the younger guys,” he said.
“We took the season as a series of goals. First, we had to get him his 600th win, then the Orange Belt Conference championship and then get the three-peat (another district championship). We couldn’t quite pull off the three-peat, but we had a good season. We couldn’t have a losing season because he only had two his whole career.”
Covell, a 3.0 student who plays travel ball with the O-City Orioles, would like to continue his baseball career in college.
“Definitely, I would love to play,” he said. “I’m looking for opportunities.”
Covell said regardless of how his career progresses, he had a good senior season at Harmony.
“Yeah, a lot of people helped me. I’d have to thank Josh, Coach Fields and my family for all their help,” he said.