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Newton softball celebrates seniors in “bittersweet” ceremony following 11-1 win over South Gwinnett
NHS Senior Night
The Newton Lady Rams walk onto the field in celebration after capturing the season sweep of South Gwinnett with a 11-1 win on Wednesday. - photo by Phillip B. Hubbard

COVINGTON, Ga. — All of the ups and downs this season has brought for the Newton Lady Rams were put on the back burner Wednesday. The Lady Rams’ Region 4-AAAAAAA matchup against South Gwinnett was all about the seniors. 

After Newton claimed a 11-1 victory over the Lady Comets, Kyla Stroud and Aniya McGuire were celebrated for their four-year investment in the program. 

Head coach Virginia Tucker-Smith promised herself she wasn’t going to cry during the ceremony, but that was easier said than done. 

“As soon as Kyla walked up to me she said, ‘Oh my God. Don’t cry.’ And I said, ‘I can’t help it,’ Tucker-Smith said. “I don’t think unless people have ever coached that they know what spending every afternoon with these girls for two months means. You just build bonds with all of them.” 

Tucker-Smith described each year’s senior night as “bittersweet.” 

“You love being able to celebrate them, but you hate it because you know you only have a few games left with them,” Tucker-Smith said.

The Lady Rams sent their two-member senior class home with a win, too. 

Newton jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the first inning and tacked on five more in the fourth to seal a 10-run victory. That gives Newton the season sweep of South Gwinnett. 

With the win, the Lady Rams improved to 4-17 overall with a 3-11 record in Region 4-AAAAAAA. Newton is currently in fifth place in the region standings. 

And, while the season hasn’t gone as planned, the Lady Rams have shown improvement down the stretch of 2022. 

In the first round of region competition in late August, Newton lost to Grayson 12-0, Brookwood 10-0, Parkview 5-2 and Archer 15-0. However, in the past week, the Lady Rams have drawn closer losing to the same teams 14-10, 8-7 and 9-2, respectively.

Newton will face Archer in the season finale on Oct. 11 at home. 

Tucker-Smith said she and her coaching staff can’t quite pinpoint the difference between now versus the early stages of the season, but she’s glad to see her team become more competitive. 

“A different team — the one we’ve known was here all season — definitely showed up,” Tucker-Smith said. “This last time through the region, we’ve definitely seen the talent. We’ve come up short, but I’m OK with that when I know we’re playing ball. 

“It was nice to see it at the end of this season and hopefully it carries over into next season for the girls who are returning.”