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Fazio: The extra effort can lead to wins
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Sport is great because it gives us a chance to see change happen live in front of us.

That change comes in the sway of a scoreboard during a game or the additional checks in the "W" column throughout an improving season.

Newton softball has a chance to be a living example of that change. The Rams have gotten off to a less than favorable start, losing 5-2, 5-4, 2-1, 10-1 and 9-0 to open up the 2012 season.

The last of those losses was a run-rule shortened game to Heritage, which Newton can learn from and easily get back on the right track.

To get back on track doesn't necessarily mean hitting more frequently or pitching harder, but doing the intangible things.

The Rams have come close to getting a win or two, but now after being no-hit by Heritage's Kierra Camp, they have a game to look back on as a definable moment of change rather than a defining a poor season. There is still ¾ of a season left, so a poor season is anything but a lock.

The Rams need to now listen to their coach, who spent time following the Heritage game with them asking them to put in the intangible efforts, and do the things to not only stop a streak, but start a new one - a winning one.

There are two special ingredients to brew up that winning concoction - teamwork and will.

Hopefully those who head to the Newton diamond will be able to see those things in action and a second-straight winning season.
Newton softball coach Virginia Waters knew coming into this season that her team had its share of young players. Talented, but young. She also knew that there was enough experience off of a 13-9 2011 team to keep from losing every game.

Well, so far the Rams have yet to come up with a win. There will be victories before the season is out, but I feel Newton needs to gets its will and teamwork together while the season is early and the talent is young.

The hard knocks and experience Newton is having now will help it down the road for sure, but everyone wants to see victories, so they should come together to make this happen.

The young players have been able to hit line drives, drive in runs, move base runners and the line. But it's been a little tougher for them to mesh with the older girls, and vice-versa.

Winters has said her team hasn't come together yet. That was evident as Newton didn't seem like it wanted to move a little quicker to help a teammate out of a jam, or do what it takes to help out their teammate in the circle.

"I knew with the girls we still had, I knew the younger ones, they know the game well. I knew they could step up and fill some spots replacing some people who have graduated," Waters said after the Heritage game. "They've done that alright. But with new girls, it's like they hadn't gelled with older girls."

I've had seasons where we lost every game, and I know it's tough when you just feel that you're not on the same level as your opponent. However, on one such team where we lost every game, a season later we were joking around after workouts and talking frequently between practices, at the end of that season our worst result was a tie. Working on intangibles can not only lend itself to Newton's season but has brought winning ways, and championships, to professional teams as well.

That is always the so-called X-factor in teams that, on paper, shouldn't compete with the teams they end up beating.
Look at the Cardinals World Series' wins or the Giants Super Bowl wins. Both those teams were at one point almost out during the regular season, and came back to overcome odds to become champions. And every year in the NCAA Basketball Tournament there are Cinderella's. Again, Butler, Xavier, James Madison, etc. shouldn't be on par with Duke, Kentucky North Carolina, USC, etc. because they usually don't even have one star which can matchup with any number of the up to four NBA players of the top-tier schools. However, they have the will to upset their way into the Final Four.

It's as simple as a look in a player's eye, or the time put in to show up to practices a little early or just the hustle displayed during both good and trying times.

Last Wednesday, there were several times when it looked like Newton would just stop running toward a base, or see a Heritage runner headed toward one of their eight stolen bases and just not bother to make a throw.

That lack of effort won't overcome a losing streak.

It had Winters frustrated to the point of making her team do extra running after the game. As a young athlete, we were always told that we should leave everything on the field or court. Granted, as a young athlete, everything couldn't be left on the court, because there were phone numbers to get after the game, and important movies to talk about and, well just better things to do while cruising in a Dodge Neon.

But the effort does help you win both on the field and off. It is a representation of yourself. And Newton softball looked like it was representing itself as a 0-5 team.

There's still plenty of season left. Newton can learn that the whole team needs to come together to win, and everyone needs to want to win.