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Defensive work of art
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It's hard to imagine where the 2007 Newton softball team would be this season without the likes of senior Shandria Usher.

On August 21, Usher helped the Lady Rams compile three straight wins within the span of a week over M.L. King, Salem and Redan. In fact, they outscored their opponents 33-8.

Usher contributed by hitting close to .500 while playing flawless defense at third base during the three-game stretch.

Based on her performance, specifically at the hot corner, Usher has been selected as the Chick-fil-A Prep Athlete of the Week.

"She is probably one of my best all-around players, academically and athletically," praised Newton head coach Jason Lachappelle of his star performer. "She's one of the best third basemen in our region - a tough player who (isn't) afraid to get dirty."

Overall, the Lady Rams are 11-6 this year, with a record of 3-2 in Region 2-AAAAA action, good for third place.

Usher, who has been playing softball since she was 6-years-old, is batting .375 this season and has only committed two errors. Academically, she continues to maintain A's and B's in the classroom.

"She's not afraid to stand up and say what needs to be said," said Lachappelle. "She's definitely a leader in the infield, and (is) an imposing presence on the field. Not much gets hit to her that gets by her."

Despite wanting to play at the next level someday - preferably Georgia State University - Usher is just having fun being a Lady Ram for now. However, she admits that she will miss her teammates and friends the most upon graduating from Newton High School.

"It's been great," said Usher of her time spent at Newton with her teammates. "We all get along very well, and no one has (any) bad attitudes. As a team, we come together and I enjoy playing with all of them."