COVINGTON, Ga. — In a game where the Newton Rams struggled in multiple aspects of the game, they ultimately suffered a tough 11-1 loss at home to the Shiloh Generals to open a three-game Region 8-AAAAAAA series.
“We took a step back today, but I’m looking forward to taking two steps forward on Friday,” said Newton Rams head coach James Jackson.
Rams freshman starter Jevarra Martin had an off night as he gave up seven runs with six being earned on five hits, seven walks and two strikeouts. Although this was a tough night for Newton’s first-year pitcher, he has shown flashes of outstanding potential of the type of player he can be in the future.
Martin’s immense skillset is sort of a microcosm of the youthful talent at Newton that has Jackson excited about his future. And Jackson says he knows once it all starts to click, Martin will be one of the best pitchers in the area.
“I think it was more mental (Wednesday),” Jackson said. “He was thinking more and I think he was in his own head. He doesn’t know how to leave the bad plays where they are, and I told him when I went out there, ‘You have all the tools now. Once you get the mental aspect of the game, you will be fine.’”
Martin’s tough night on the mound was matched with the Rams struggles on offense and in the field. Newton finished its night with only three hits on the record and four errors.
As a common adage by baseball coaches, Jackson expects the bats to heat up as the weather does but knows they need to clean up their play in the field. He says that the more time his players have in varsity competition, the more improved they will be in each aspect of the game.
Consequently, Jackson admits that he knew this year would be a “teaching year” for many players that lack varsity experience, but sees the potential in his team. With a team of only two seniors, this is no surprise, but Jackson will luckily have a sharp increase in senior leaders as their eight current juniors will move into that role.
Some of these players like first baseman J.D. Coltharp and third baseman Bailey Barbus already seemed to be taking the lead. Coltharp was heard throughout the game encouraging his teammates to make noise when the Rams were at the plate and Barbus led the team in postgame sprints and has played solidly at third during the course of the season.
Sophomore catcher Kawaskee Teemer has also made visible strides as a young leader, and this was a challenge that Jackson made to him. Teemer was on the freshman team just last season and having already earned the starting job on the varsity team, he has a bright future as a catcher.
“I told him, ‘Although you’re a sophomore, you’re a catcher. You have to be a leader. You’re the leader of the infield,’ so I’m trying to teach him how to do that,” said Jackson. “I told him, ‘Hey, you’re a great catcher. I believe in your skills, let me teach you the way.’”
Newton dropped to 2-12 overall and 1-6 in region play which places them last in the region standings. Shiloh (6-9. 2-5) snapped a two-game skid with the win — only its second victory in the last seven games.
The Rams will have another shot at the Generals in their next matchup in a Friday doubleheader at Shiloh.