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Late letdown
Salem stuns Newton with three runs in seventh to steal 3-2 win
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For six innings Tuesday, Newton softball played flawless defense and had control of its game with Salem. Ironically, what powered them to a 2-0 lead wound up aiding Salem to a 3-2 win.

The Lady Rams (4-2) made two costly errors in the seventh inning and Taylor Beachcamp made them pay with a two-run triple to cap a three-run inning for Salem (2-0). Riley Rogers set down Newton in order in the bottom of the inning to preserve the come-from-behind win.

"It's pointless to play six great innings just to give it away in the seventh," Newton coach Virginia Waters said. "I think the umpire made a tough call at second in that inning and it sort of spread from there. They (Salem) got loud and I could tell Lattice (Albert) got a little nervous after the umpire told her not to rub the ball (between pitches) but it's just stuff we have to work through."

Albert pitched six scoreless innings with her defense playing at times spectacularly behind her before a pair of errors in the seventh led to the loss. Kelsey Swinson made two diving plays at shortstop but allowed a groundball to sneak under her glove to put runners on first and second with no outs in the seventh. Albert struck out the next batter but catcher Zhandria Usher's throw to first was dropped to load the bases. One run scored on the play. Beachcamp then promptly ripped a line drive into the left field corner to plate two. She was thrown out trying to score.

"Nobody's perfect, we just need to remember what we're going to do with the ball when it's hit," Waters said. "Kelsey's not one of those people that makes a lot of errors so I don't expect her to make many after tonight."

Up to the seventh, Newton was in total control. Albert kept Salem's hitters off balance and worked out of one-out bases loaded jams in the third and sixth innings to keep Salem off the scoreboard. Newton's defense made plays all over the field. They tracked balls down in the gaps and cut two runners down at the plate to hold Salem scoreless.

"I'm glad it wasn't a fluke this weekend in Griffin," Waters said. "We played great defense and executed when we needed to. We left some base runners on when we shouldn't have but I was pleased with everything up until that seventh."

Newton took a 1-0 lead in the first inning off a walk and a two-out single from Swinson. The Lady Rams added a run in the fifth off a slow roller off the bat of Usher. But the Lady Rams also left nine runners on base including leaving the bases loaded in the sixth and was 3-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

"This was probably the fastest pitching with the most movement we've seen and we have to adjust," Waters said. "Our timing was a little off. We try to work on quick hands everyday in practice and some of our girls caught up to it eventually late in the game and some of our girls still had trouble so it will be something we continue to work on and prepare for next time."

Neither team put up big offensive numbers. Riley held Newton to six hits in seven innings while Salem had seven against Albert.

Despite the tough loss, Waters doesn't expect it to have any lingering effect.

"It's definitely disheartening to win six innings and give it up in the seventh but I think luckily with this group, it won't stay in their heads too long," she said. "By tomorrow afternoon at practice we'll have forgotten about it."

The Lady Rams get a chance to redeem themselves Thursday when they travel to Spalding.