A 13-17 (8-2 Region 2-AAAAAA) record last year yielded a huge blowout loss to county/region rival Alcovy in the region championship and a first round exit in the playoffs. The Lady Rams were a team lacking experience last year, but in 2015 they have an abundance of it.
“We didn’t lose a whole lot last year. We lost Cheyenne Walsingham and we lost Merlexia Maddox, both good girls, but right now I think we are in a good position as far as replacing them,” Ashley Coles, Lady Rams’ head coach, said.
“Experience definitely is helping us develop into a better team,” she added. “Our goals this year are to win region first off and then our goals are, since we’re gonna be hosting that first round of the playoffs, we’d like to win that and go to the second round. Newton softball’s never done that before.”
Britney Ellis, sophomore pitcher, will probably benefit the most from last year’s experience when she was a deer-in-headlights freshman with loads of talent. Combine Ellis’ experience with her talent and the tutoring of Coles, also a former pitcher, and Newton could have one of the best pitchers in the region. Toss in a little Madison Cronic and the Lady Rams will have a strong duo in the circle.
“I think with experience comes confidence. They are more confident in the situation. They’ve been there, they know what it’s like to play under pressure,” Coles said.
Coles says the team has a few new players coming up, entering their junior season that she believes could challenge other players for spots adding a level of competition to the team this year that wasn’t there last year.
“Our outfield is showing much more promise. Last year, this time, we weren’t sure whether we were gonna have an outfield or not,” Coles laughed.
“I see a lot of potential in our outfield. We’ve got three or four girls who are doing very well. Last year, they weren’t where they needed to be and this year you can tell that they’ve worked and they’ve got that experience we talked about and they’re coming on. That’s really shown me promise and excites me.”
In practice, Coles is trying to be more vocal and boost morale, adjusting to a role she didn’t have last year with assistant coach Greg Cowan. With Cowan not coaching, Coles added Shandria Usher to the coaching staff.
Usher, a former Newton softball player who also played in college, was a head coach at Veterans last year. Coles says Usher is a really big help and her head coaching experience has been very beneficial.
Still, despite a year of experience Newton doesn’t communicate on the field like a championship team. Coles wants the team to talk more and bring more energy and swagger. She says they also need to work on making their throws.
Region 2-AAAAAA will basically come down to two teams: Alcovy and Newton. Alcovy is still as strong as ever, but Newton has gotten better. The Lady Rams still have megastar Ciara Bryan, the best player in the county. Maybe this time Newton will be on the other side of a double digit victory in the region championship. Maybe.