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PREP SOFTBALL: Newton High upperclassmen help younger players develop
NHS Upperclassmen
Kyla Stroud (36) enters as one of four seniors this season. As a senior, Stroud said she is ready to help lead the younger players and help develop their talent. After putting together a noteworthy sophomore campaign in the pitcher’s circle, Elle Standard (10) enters 2022 as the Lady Rams’ ace - photo by Garrett Pitts

COVINGTON, Ga. — Featured on this year’s Newton Lady Rams varsity roster are four sophomores, five juniors and four seniors. But, when the Lady Rams concluded team tryouts in the spring, they also had 10 freshmen make the varsity squad. 

Two of the team’s upperclassmen have taken on the mantle of leadership: Senior Kyla Stroud and junior Elle Standard. 

Being one of Newton’s four seniors, Stroud is excited to share her knowledge with the future stars of Newton softball. 

“It’s a big role, especially having 10 freshmen,” Stroud said. “I feel like I have a lot to share and it’s a lot for the freshem to take in.” 

Stroud will help bolster the Lady Rams’ offense. Last year, she recorded a .409 batting average while hitting three home runs and 33 RBIs. Her efforts earned her an All-Region selection. 

For Standard, she’ll step up and be the team’s ace in the pitcher’s circle. A season ago, Standard put in 90.4 innings of work while recording a 3.93 ERA and striking out 42 batters. Like Stroud, Standard also received an All-Region selection. 

Becoming the team’s No. 1 pitcher doesn’t come with any added pressure for Standard. 

“I’m used to pitching all the time,” Standard said. “It’s not really that big of an adjustment. Obviously, I’m going to be really nervous coming in, because I want to do my best for the team.” 

Standard enters her junior season with a new pitch that she has added to help throw batters off this season, too. 

“I started throwing a drop curve toward the end of last year, but it wasn’t a main pitch,” Standard said. “This year, I’ve worked on it and I really feel like it’ll help me get some of the power hitters out.” 

Adding the drop curve gives Standard six total pitches in her arsenal. 

On the other hand, Stroud is focused on power hitting and boosting the Lady Rams’ offense. She enters her senior year with high expectations for herself and the overall team. 

“I want to go all out this year,” Stroud said. “I want to hit at least 12 home runs. For the team, I want to make it to Columbus and finish toward the top of state.” 

Mechanics haven’t been at the forefront of Stroud’s preparation this offseason. It’s been her mindset and approach to each at-bat that she has worked on. 

“I’ve been focused on getting up in the batter’s box calm,” Stroud said. “If I stress out, I’m either going to do something I don’t want to do, or it’s going to end really badly. So, I have to be really calm.” 

All in all, the Newton Lady Rams will depend a lot on Stroud for offensive leadership while Standard leads the way in the circle and defensively. 

And, though Waters categorized the two as “polar opposites” she expressed her faith in both players to step up and be the leaders Newton needs in 2022. 

“Elle is a heck of a pitcher,” Waters said. “You could literally throw Elle in the circle game after game and you’re never going to hear her say, ‘take me out.’ You can’t help but love Elle because she’s quiet, but she’s also a force.

“Kyla loves hitting and that’s just in her. She is a natural leader because she’s so outspoken and vocal. Her role is to be a positive leader and she has accepted that. 

“Having Kyla on the team is a help to everybody. I’m glad Elle and Kyla are a part of the program.”