Newton softball is coming off a season that saw the Lady Rams lose in the region championship to Alcovy and get bounced from the first round of the state playoffs. The Lady Rams didn’t lose much from that team, and the experience for the young team that they were last year projected them to be much better this year. So far they’re off to a slow start on that front as they fell to Shiloh 7-3 to open the season and lost to Locust Grove and Peachtree Ridge later in the week.
The thing is, the Lady Rams are a better team, they just might not know it yet.
“I see that our girls wanna win, but I think they’re scared because I think that they are setting themselves up for failure in their mind. They feel like they’re not good enough,” Ashley Coles, Newton head coach, said.
Coles realizes that some of her players feel out of position, but after watching them perform against Shiloh she showed confidence in them.
“As a coach and someone who’s been around ball, I see that they can play that position they just gotta believe in it,” Coles added.
Newton’s outfield was its biggest question mark last year, but they played very well in the first four innings of the game against Shiloh, making play after play before errors reared their ugly head in the final innings of the game.
“We’ve been working on outfield a ton, last year that’s where we were weak. Our same girls are out there, we just worked a lot over the summer and they worked through the offseason. I saw a huge change, I think the thing that hasn’t caught up with their physical ability is their mental confidence,” Coles said. “They just don’t have that confidence that I want them to have and I think they’ll get it as they keep making the plays they made tonight, I think they’ll get it. The thing for them is just a matter of they want to make the play before it’s even there. They see the ball coming to them and they get nervous instead of just calming down and making the catch just like they know they can.”
“I think that’s where the errors come from,” Coles added. “I think they get very nervous when the ball’s hit to them because in the past they haven’t done so well, but physically they are able now. As you can see they got to every ball and they hit hard, they may have dropped it, but they got to it. Those last few they dropped I think came from mental focus and not being confident.”
Right fielder Markayla Price was great against Shiloh, she was all over the field making plays and backing up her teammates. In the dugout when Newton is on offense, she’s usually the player that gets the chants started to cheer on her teammates. She ran so much on the field, she was draped over the Gatorade cooler toward the end of the game, that’s how tired she was.
“Markayla’s one of those people who is a big ball of energy. She always gives it 100 percent. She hustles on and off, not to mention she’s fast too so that makes it even better,” Coles said. “She’s always hustling and it makes her a leader on the field. It makes you feel confident in who you got in right field and it makes you know that she’s gonna put all she’s got no matter what. It makes me very proud to have her on our team.”
Region play doesn’t start for a couple weeks, and Newton should be fine by then. The non-region experience should do them well and allow them to reach their goal of a region championship.