COVINGTON - Newton catcher Chaconna Marks played a big role in helping get the Lady Rams into the Class AAAAA South Sectionals.
Now she is going to have to find a way to take the Lady Rams' defense to the next level as they start their quest for a trip to Columbus against No. 3 Houston County at 4 p.m. Friday at Lovejoy Park.
"When she's behind the plate. she controls the infield. She controls the runners," Newton coach Jason LaChappelle said. "The other girls know if there's a throw down to second, there is no doubt that Chaconna will hit her mark. We play teams with good speed, but after the first or second inning, they're not leaving the bag."
In the region tournament, Newton displayed its defensive prowess by holding top-ranked Greenbrier to just one run. But as the competition gets better, a good defense will keep a team in a game but not win it.
"Defensively, I think we have the ability to play against teams of that caliber. But offensively, we're going to have to step it up, quit taking called third strikes and be more aggressive," LaChappelle said. "What I'd really like to see is the girls hit the ball. They're all capable, I've seen them all hit the ball solidly."
The Lady Rams had their best finish in the sectionals last year where they went 2-2 with wins over Newnan and Camden County.
If Newton is to surpass that this season, its bats are going to have to come alive.
Although Haleigh Higgins, Chermisha Roberts. Markea Sheppard, Zandira Usher and Stevie Hodges are all pretty productive at the plate, it has to be a group effort.
"Our hitting is what's keeping us back right now. They all have to step up. I've never seen a team that scored a run every inning and got beat. The biggest issue I see on offense is confidence," LaChappelle said. "I would almost guarantee that if every player went up to the plate thinking that they were going to get a hit, it would happen a whole lot more then it does."
Manny Fils can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.