COVINGTON - Newton's softball did something they hadn't done in the past four years, come home with hardware after winning the Silver Division in the two-day Spalding Diamond Classic.
After splitting their games on Friday, winning against Rutland 8-1 before losing to Upson-Lee 7-5, they came back and ran the gauntlet, winning all three games on Saturday.
They started with a 7-1 win over Alcovy then defeated Fellowship Christian 18-1 before coming from behind against Lamar County to get a 7-4 decision and the trophy.
"Since I've been in the program, this is the first year we've come home with a trophy. They (girls) were proud," first-year head coach Virginia Waters said. "You could tell by the way they carried themselves. It was like they said to themselves 'We've finally dome something right'."
While pitchers Shea McInerny and Holly Springer did a good job in the circle, it was the hitting which really came alive as the Lady Rams had a team average of just over .430.
"We had four girls hit over .500 - Zhandria Usher, Markea Sheppard, Chaconna Marks and Holly Springer. Usher led the team batting-wise. Her batting average just a little over .600. There were games she batted 1.000," Waters said. "We hit the ball well and executed well when I asked for bunts or slaps, just to move runners around. We had less than seven strikeouts the whole tournament. We made contact, we just didn't look at the ball."
Besides hitting the ball to move runners by playing small ball, Newton also went yard several times with six home runs.
Marks, Springer and Sheppard all had homers, with Sheppard pacing the team with three followed by Marks with two while Springer had hers against Alcovy.
The two pitchers played solidly in the circle, letting the defense do its job as they registered less than 20 strikeouts for the tournament.
"All my girls played well defensively," Waters said. "Our short stop, Kelsey Swinson, had 21 putouts. If you think about it, that's a complete game."
Salem's good start
Salem started the tournament by winning the first two games, before going 2-1 on Saturday in the Gold Division.
The three wins in the first five game equals the amount of games won last season.
The Lady Seminoles started the tournament with a win over Fellowship Christian before downing Jackson 4-1 to put them going for the gold.
Salem came back the following day with the same determination, and played Georgia Military to a scoreless tie in regulation before losing 2-0 in the eighth inning.
The girls were able to regroup to beat Upson-Lee 8-2.
"Jessica Vason hit two home runs and Joy Vason hit one," Salem coach Stephanie Bassett said.
Unfortunately for the Lady Seminoles, they were unable to maintain the streak as they lost to Spalding 4-0.
Rylee Rogers pitched all five games for Salem.
Alcovy finishes 3-2
The Lady Tigers had a good run in the tournament finishing with a 3-2 record.
The Alcovy Lady Tigers, who also played in the Silver Division, started the opening day of the tournament going 1-1 before going 2-1 on the second day.
They won their first game shutting out Lamar County 3-0 before they were shutout themselves, losing to Spalding 1-0 in the nightcap.
Following a loss to Newton to start the Silver round, they came back, winning the last two games.
They snuck past Crawford County 1-0 before demolishing Fellowship Christian 14-1.
"I think we pitched really well. Dallas (Hardin) and Chelsea Murphy pitched all five games. Dallas had two shutouts and Chelsea had two one-run games," Alcovy coach Casey Bates said.
"The team played really good defense. They made three errors all tournament. We just need to do a better job hitting. We're not striking out, but we're not driving the ball. We just have to get used to all the different pitching. We'll see a good pitcher then we'll see a mediocre pitcher.
"I always say if you do two out of three things well you're going to win a lot of ball games."
at Diamond Classic
Eastside went 3-2 at last weekend's South Gwinnett Diamond Classic, winning games against Greater Atlanta Christian, St. Pius and Forsyth Central, but dropping games to Monroe Area and Parkview.
Senior ace Amanda Henderson went 3-1 for the weekend, allowing just one earned run and striking out 37 batters in 25 innings pitched. Henderson followed a complete game victory with nine strikeouts in three hitless innings of relief in a 2-1 loss to Monroe Area, then didn't allow an earned run in three consecutive appearances against Parkview (lost, 2-1), St. Pius (won, 6-3) and Forsyth Central (won, 4-2).
"It's early. She's not in mid-season form yet," Eastside coach Jason Stokes said of Henderson, who had control problems at times. "She pitched like I expected her to."
Erin Steele led the way at the plate, going 6-for-10 with four stolen bases in four games played. Bianca Reed, who hit a big three-run home run in the win over Forsyth Central, went 6-for-16, and Henderson was 5-for-14. Junior Taylor Causey pitched in two of the games, getting the loss against Monroe Area (3 IP, 2 H, 1 ER), and finishing up the win over St. Pius with one-run ball in three innings.
Staff reporter Kurt Aschermann contributed to this report.