COVINGTON, Ga. — There’s no place like home.
Playing on its own diamond for the first time in 2020, the Newton High School softball team made itself at home Tuesday evening by plowing through visiting Upson-Lee, 8-1, to move to 3-0.
It’s the second straight year the Lady Rams have reeled off three straight wins to start the season after failing to do so in any other campaign over the last decade.
Junior right-hander Hayden Pearson pitched a gem in the circle for Newton.
After giving up a run in the opening frame, Pearson settled in and began to mow down Upson-Lee’s lineup. She went the distance and finished her outing having allowed one earned run on three hits while collecting seven strikeouts en route to the complete-game victory.
“Honestly, I don’t ever worry about Hayden,” head coach Virginia Tucker-Smith said with a grin. “I know it always seems to take her a few pitches to get her going, but I don’t ever worry about Hayden. Eventually all her pitches are going to be where they’re supposed to be, and they’re going to move the way they’re supposed to move.”
Pearson received ample support from her teammates at the plate as well. The Lady Rams totaled 11 hits and pushed across eight runs — four of which came in the sixth inning to give their ace some breathing room to work with.
Despite the offensive potency she observed from her club in the late innings of the game, Tucker-Smith is concerned about how long it’s taken for the bats to wake up in each of their three contests this season.
“It seems like we are always slow getting started on offense,” she said. “Even in the games we played on Saturday it took us two or three innings. I know we’ve got to get timing down, but sometimes you may not have two or three innings to get the offense rolling… We just need to be in there aggressive and ready for the first pitch.”
Newton took an aggressive approach at the plate in the second inning when it ambushed Upson-Lee’s Zaria Childs for back-to-back singles to open the frame. The hits would later pay off in the form of an RBI groundout to knot the game up at one run apiece.
With two outs recorded in the third inning, senior Ty'Liyah Hardeman smacked an RBI double over second base to give the Lady Rams the lead. A pair of RBI singles from Auburn commit Kyla Stroud and Aulora Edwards pushed their advantage out to 4-1.
The Lady Rams used more two-out cooking to give themselves cushion in the sixth inning. Childs collected two quick outs for the Lady Knights, but Newton answered with four straight hits — a pair of singles from Aaliyah Wilcox and Smith, followed by run-scoring doubles from Pearson and Hardeman.
Newton will open Region 4-AAAAAAA play this Thursday when Brookwood comes to town for a showdown at 6 p.m. The Lady Broncos posted an 11-16 record in 2019 and will come into the matchup at 1-1 on the year.