COVINGTON, Ga. — Competing in Region 4-AAAAAAA has been a daunting task for the Newton Lady Rams in years past. Nevertheless, Newton has still experienced success in Georgia’s largest classification.
This year, there’s something different about the Lady Rams’ mindset.
According to head coach Virginia Waters, Newton no longer has any fear when playing a tough region schedule.
“I think we can compete with anybody in our region this year with this group of girls,” Waters said. “There’s nobody we’re intimidated by in this region. And that’s been a long time coming. When we first got in this region, we were like, ‘Oh no.’ But everybody knows that we can play with them in this region, and I’m excited to see what that looks like this year.”
Not much has changed with the makeup of Region 4-AAAAAAA.
Returning alongside Newton are Brookwood, Grayson, Parkview and South Gwinnett. The only change is the addition of Archer.
Newton finished third in the final region standings last season behind Parkview and Grayson. The Lady Rams defeated Brookwood in two out of three matchups to claim third place outright.
In the first round of the playoffs, the Lady Rams were swept by Newnan losing both games 2-1 and 2-0, respectively.
Waters said offense was Newton’s missing ingredient last year.
“It wasn’t our defense nor our pitching,” Waters said. “We couldn’t get the ball in spots offensively that we needed to. It wasn’t our defense that let us down, it was our offense.”
Learning from last year’s playoff appearance, the Lady Rams have primarily focused on their offense to help them “cross over the hump.”
Newton will be searching in a pool of 10 freshmen, four sophomores, five juniors and four seniors to provide that offensive spark.
Waters said returners Kyla Stroud, Elle Standard, Aaliyah Wilcox and Gerielle Dumervil are prepared to lead this year’s team.
But the 10 freshmen who earned spots on the varsity roster have made considerable noise this offseason, too, according to Waters.
“We’re really excited about working with those girls for four years,” Waters said. “A few of them, will get some varsity experience as ninth graders. We’ve got some girls who can definitely take some spots or share some time with upperclassmen in spots.”
Two players, in particular, have caught the attention of their head coach.
Aaliyah Parsons and LeiLani Garcia were starters on last year’s junior varsity squad as eighth graders. Waters emphasized the impact Parsons and Garcia could make almost immediately.
“Had they been able to play varsity as eighth graders, they would’ve played varsity as eighth graders,” Waters said. “I’m really impressed. If you just want to go out there and see some power in batting practice, watch them two bat.”
With aspirations to compete at the top of the region and move past the first round of the playoffs, Newton will depend on its pitching and defense while it keeps working toward strengthening each and every at-bat.
And Waters expressed confidence in her team’s ability to develop an offensive spark.
“I think we bring in some stronger bats and more consistent bats,” Waters said. “And we as a team have discussed how important it’s going to be to move baserunners around. Even if that means that our three, four, five or six hole batters are bunting. We’ve got to get people in scoring position. So, I have no problem saying that we could absolutely advance past the first round.”