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PREP SOFTBALL: Lady Rams rise in season finale against rival Rockdale
Sophomore Tyliyah Hardeman smashed a two-run homer in the second inning to help the Lady Rams easily defeat Rockdale in Friday's regular season finale. -photo by Sydney Chacon

By Michael Pope 

COVINGTON, Ga. — With the Class AAAAAAA playoffs on the horizon, the (13-9, 6-4) Lady Rams’ softball team closed out their regular season on a high note with a dominant 13-3 victory over their rivals Rockdale County. 

Lady Rams head coach Virginia Tucker-Smith mentioned that she felt that her team came out a little slow after locking down the No. 3 seed in the region with Tuesday’s 16-3 win against Shiloh, but the offense picked it up in the second and third inning with more aggressive play.

Newton put an offensive explosion on display against the Lady Bulldogs, which saw it score in almost every inning of the contest. 

The Lady Rams started off the game by bringing four runs across to score in the first and they would not look back as they would bring home six more runs in the second inning and three more in the third to help secure a victory in their regular season finale. 

Small ball and the Lady Rams’ ability to take advantage of the Lady Bulldogs’ mistakes ultimately led to their impressive offensive performance, and this was most prominently shown in their six-run second inning. 

Newton Softball
Newton coach Virginia Tucker-Smith prepares to high-five a player at third base during Friday evening's 13-3 region win over rival Rockdale. In her first season returning to the dugout, Tucker-Smith will guide Newton to a second straight postseason appearance. -photo by Sydney Chacon

Newton started off the second with back-to-back bunt singles, which brought up freshman pitcher Hayden Pearson with runners on first and second and zero outs. Pearson roped a triple to left center that brought home both runners to score and left the Lady Rams with a prime opportunity to build on their lead.

They would do just that as a sac fly and two errors in the inning would bring home four more runs for the Lady Rams and give them a comfortable lead that would not be threatened.

Tyliyah Hardeman would follow up the Lady Rams’ strong second inning performance with a two-run homer in the team’s three-run third inning. Hardeman had an outstanding day as she scored in each of her plate appearances. 

Newton maintained complete control of the game from the opening pitch until the final out of the contest. The Lady Rams’ offense was unstoppable, but their pitching was just as stellar as Pearson held the Lady Bulldogs to only three runs.  

Tucker-Smith knows that her team’s reliance on Pearson will be of utmost importance for their success in region play and the playoffs.

“I need her to build up stamina and know that she is the key to our success or down fall ultimately,” said Tucker-Smith. “I know she is a freshman and she is not used to pitching constantly but that’s what we need her to do here.”

The Lady Rams will next face the Shiloh Generals in the Region 8-AAAAAAA tournament where they will play a best of three series.