Going into a matchup against one of the best teams in the state is not an ideal time to be struggling.
However, that's exactly where the Newton baseball team finds itself.
The Rams (6-9, 2-4 Region 2-AAAAA) have lost three straight, allowing a combined 41 runs. Newton has also struggled with the bat after falling 11-10 to Archer on March 14. It has since lost 12-2 to East Coweta on Friday and was shutout 8-0 to Westlake Tuesday.
The Rams today host Luella, a team that is ranked third in the state and sits atop the region with a 6-0 record.
"Luella is a stout team," Newton coach Vince Byams said. "They probably have some of the top pitchers we're going to see this year."
Those pitchers come at an inconvenient time for Newton, which can't find its bats.
"The last two games, pretty much our bats have gone quiet since the Archer game," Byams said. "We've had two runs in two games, that's not going to win you a whole lot of games."
Against East Coweta the Rams had eight runners in scoring position during the game and couldn't muster more than two runs. Against Westlake Tuesday, both teams struggled, with just three hits combined.
The Rams have been able to score at points throughout the season, putting up 15 runs against Southwest DeKalb and Langston Hughes, but other than an outburst against Archer have struggled at times.
Byams attributes it to the teams' youth.
"It's almost like we're going through a little bit of growing pains," Byams said.
A majority of the Rams 13 players are underclassmen, who have had trouble shaking off their struggles.
"We have young players and we just need a mentality of shaking off errors and mistakes," Byams said. "Even in a loss we need to come back and fight. We have 15 and 16 year olds who need to make adjustments to varsity play and bounce back real quick."
Byams is hoping his few seniors can step up and lead the younger players during the second half of the season.
The Rams currently sit one game out of fourth place in the region, the final playoff spot, with eight region games left. After traveling to Luella, Newton hosts M.L. King Tuesday, a team it beat on March 2 and then travels to Stephenson on March 30, a team it lost to 5-4 on March 6.
"We just have to compete," Byams said. We have to compete with every team we play form here on out."