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PREP BASEBALL: Rams remain positive despite first round bounce against Newnan
NHS Baseball swept 1st round
The Newton Rams were swept by Newnan High School in the first round of the Class 7A state playoffs. Now, they’ll look to next season in hopes for better results. - photo by Covington News/File Photo

NEWNAN, Ga. — After qualifying for the Class 7A playoffs for a second consecutive season, the Newton Rams hit the road for the first round on April 27. It wasn’t a pleasant road trip, either, as the Rams lost to No. 1 seed Newnan 17-2 and 9-2 and games one and two, respectively. 

Despite the first round sweep, first-year head coach Derwin McNealy recognized how beneficial Wednesday’s action can be for the returning players. 

“Experience is definitely the best teacher,” McNealy said. “I hope my guys will grow from the experience. That’s the big thing we can take away.” 

As a result, the Rams’ season ultimately comes to an end. They finished 8-19 overall with a 3-9 record in Region 4-AAAAAAA. Newton also received some huge contributions. 

At the plate, Anthony Bynum led the team with a .328 batting average while batting 16 runs in and drilling both of the teams’ two home runs this season. C. Brightwell had a .308 batting average along with 14 RBIs. 

Brightwell was active on the bases, too, leading the team with 19 stolen bases. J. Nolley had 13 stolen bases on the season as well. 

L. Palmer and Nolan McCamy were solid defenders for the Rams this season. Palmer had a .882 fielding percentage and McCamy had a .833 percentage. 

In addition to Nolley, Lucas Ballard and Miguel Barbis led the way for the Rams on the mound this season. 

Nolley pitched 25 innings and had a 5.32 ERA and recorded 25 strikeouts. Ballard registered 28.1 innings pitched and finished with a 5.44 ERA and had 24 strikeouts. Barbis had the most innings pitched with 29.2 total with a 7.31 ERA and a team-high 30 strikeouts. 

All season long, McNealy has not kept it a secret that this Newton squad entered 2022 with little to no varsity playing experience. But, after this season, he believes the future is bright. 

“The system is in place now,” McNealy said. “The guys have bought into the system and they’ve gotten a chance to see how it works. And now that can trickle down to the younger guys we have. We’re hoping that the maturity will lead to more consistency.” 

Now, the Rams enter the offseason after their early playoff exits. Nevertheless, McNealy stressed how he plans for next year’s team to hit the ground running. 

McNealy said they’re planning to be in the weight room and keep building up for next season’s competition. 

But, for now, McNealy highlighted how proud he was of this year’s team for continuing to battle all season long for him and the Rams program. 

“Nobody hung their head,” McNealy said. “Every day, they fought for me and showed up. Everybody is definitely happy about the direction that the program is going. We won’t stop and we’ll still keep trying to get better.”