The Lady Rams ran into a buzz saw on the diamond Wednesday as they dropped a 3-1 decision to Union Grove in region play at Tuner Lake.
Newton (6-4, 2-1 Region 2-AAAAA) lost for the first time in region play, but it wasn't due to their defense and pitching.
Holly Springer pitched another solid game and the Lady Rams played sound defense behind her. The offense, on the other had, couldn't pick her up. Despite its best effort, Union Grove pitcher Meagan Stover kept Newton off balance all evening as she struck out 12 batters to post the win.
Newton faced an early deficit as the Lady Wolverines scored two runs in the first inning. Sammi Becker responded with a single in the bottom of the first and later moved into scoring position after Choconna Marks reached base on an error. But Stover retired Misha Roberts on a ground ball to end the inning and the Newton threat.
"You drop two in the first inning and you can't come back and match it; it's kind of hard to win ballgames when you leave runners in scoring position," Newton coach Jason LaChappelle said. "We need to be more aggressive at the plate; that's all there is to it."
Up 3-0, Stover stifled the Lady Rams over the next three innings until back-to-back hits by Roberts and Stevie Hodges plated Newton's lone run in the fourth inning.
That's where the scoring would end as the Lady Rams would only pick up one more hit, a single by Markea Sheppard in the seventh inning.
"We held our own. We held them to three runs which is better than we did in any game last year. We get up there and every other swing is a lazy swing. There's not much you can accomplish with that."
Although the offense struggled, the defense played well. Newton's outfielders ran down several deep balls, and the infielders did their part, throwing out two runners at the plate. Marks turned in a solid game behind the plate as well. She authored the play of the game in the top of the seventh inning when she gunned down a runner leading too far off from first.
"Defensively, we're pretty solid," LaChappelle said. "We have a couple of really good catchers who protect the runs at the plate and their trying to score, I'm not worried about anything hit on the infield. It's not going to happen with these girls."
Despite the loss, Newton sits in good position in the region. With two wins, the Lady Rams are in a three-way tie for second behind Greenbrier, who sits alone in first with a perfect 4-0 record in 2-AAAAA play.
"So far this season we haven't seen any pitchers that strong," LaChappelle said. "Regionally, Union Grove has always been a strong team. Definitely one of the teams you want to beat. It just didn't happen this year."
Newton's next home game is Wednesday against region foe Luella at 5 p.m. at Turner Lake.