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Posted: August 13, 2011 4:08 p.m.

Miller Grove's Byams named NHS baseball coach

Newton has its new baseball coach after the Newton County Board of Education approved the hiring of Vincent Byams at the monthly meeting Tuesday. Byams replaces the departed Ty Hensley who left after three years at the helm.

Byams comes from Miller Grove where he posted four winning seasons in six years which included the school's first and only postseason berth in 2010. Byams takes over a Ram team that went 10-15 in 2011 with a 7-7 record in Region 2-AAAAA. They finished tied for fourth in the region standings but lost out on a playoff berth to Westlake due to a tiebreaker.

"To me it is not about what I bring but what I am able to bring out of the current players here at Newton," Byams said. "I plan to bring an expectation to be the best in all of our main priorities God, family, school, and Newton baseball."

The Rams struggled again last season against the good teams in their region. They beat up on the weaker teams but were unable to break through against top teams Newnan, East Coweta and Luella. Newton suffered through fifth straight losing season. You have to go back to 2006 to find the last year the Rams posted a winning record.

"We are going to sacrifice the "me" attitude for "we"," Byams said. "Everyone will be held accountable for their effort and development of the Newton baseball program. Our effort through failure is going to equate our own perseverance in bringing Newton baseball back to where it needs to be."

Byams takes over a team very much in transition. Stalwarts D.J. Hill and Clay Johnson, Newton's best hitters the past two years graduated in the spring and the Rams will need to develop their young players.

"Maximum effort in our preparation is going to be key," Byams said. "If we are mentally tough and make the fundamental plays then we can be successful majority of the time. Baseball is a humbling game where you have success through failing majority of the time. So we must be mentally prepared to handle failure in order for us win."

Another challenge Byams faces is developing a pitching staff. Newton returns Trip Loftin, it's most consistent pitcher, and Sherman Graves. But the Rams have been depleted of shutdown pitching talent for several years. Byams plans to simplify things though and believes he will be able to get the most out of the arms he has.

"Pitching should not be a problem this year," Byams said. "All of our pitchers are returning from last season. As long as our pitchers throw strikes and give our defense a chance we should be in good shape. Our pitchers must throw strikes."

Turning around a team accustomed to losing won't be easy. Not a single player on the roster has enjoyed such a season as a Ram. Nevertheless, Byams said he's going to approach it as everything starts with a clean slate and success will only come from hard work.

"From day one, it will start with our commitment to our off season workouts and player development," he said. "For us to compete we must work at every aspect of our game. It is going to take for all of our players to understand the team concept of sacrifice."

So what realistically what should be expected of Newton the first year under a new coach? If you ask Byams, he's dead set on getting the Rams back to the postseason.

"Our expectations every year for Newton will be to compete in every game and push for a state playoff bid," Byams said. "I am truly excited to be here at Newton High."

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