Lady Rams softball team ready for '11

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

COVINGTON -- When the Lady Rams take the field this year they will be different from any team they've fielded in recent history despite returning nine players.

For the past few years, Newton's teams usually had solid pitching with quite a few girls who could power the ball out of the park. However, this season they have neither.

But that doesn't mean head coach Virginia Waters is not expecting big things out of them.

"With all this experience, the thing we have least of as of right now is pitching or having a true pitcher. We're definitely looking at having a top notch defense because we're going to have to throw some girls that aren't used to throwing full games," Waters said.

"We're going to have to play small ball this year. We have a lot of speed this year compared to what we had last year. We'll do base-to-base if we have to."

While some coaches may feel that a drop in the level of pitching may be a huge disadvantage, Waters actually looks at it as benefit. Since most teams are not used to seeing pitches that don't have high velocity, she said their opponents will be forced to change the way they swing their bats, causing them to possibly lose some of their timing. Doing the work in the circle for the Lady Rams are Kelsey Swinson and Letice Albert.

"They don't have a ton of different pitches but they're consistent. They have decent velocity and they can throw strikes for seven innings. Honestly, that's all you need -- someone to keep you in ball games."

In order to get the most of their pitching, assistant coach Ashley Coles has spend a lot of time with their pitchers and catchers getting them to develop and work on stamina and proper mechanics.

Once the ball is in play, Waters has full confidence that the defense will be able to get the necessary outs.

Of the 11 players on the team, nine are returners with four, Zhandria Usher, Keyanna Notae, Makala Williams and Swinson, being seniors.

"This year's four seniors are actual leaders. They have helped to mesh the team. This team works better together. They've stepped up and showed the other girls how it could be fun and competitive at the same time," Waters said.

Also on the team are Val Yates, Marie Diaz, Precious Price, T'Keyuh William, Bri Weaver and DeAunna Jackson.

Offensively, without the power to drive the long ball deep into the outfield, the Lady Rams are hoping to use their speed to their advantage.

"I'm looking at the whole top of lineup doing a lot of bunting because they're really fast. We have Precious Price who's really quick, Kelsey is really quick and Letice. We think they can bunt for hits. You might see a completely different style this year because we have to use what we have," Waters said. "If we can get them all on, then Zhan is going to be in our four or five spot and hopefully score them."

While it is everyone's dream and goal to make it to state, Waters really hasn't decided on any other goals. But the one thing they do want to do is have a chance to win every game they play until the very last out.

"I haven't thought more than today with this team simply because we've had to put so much focus on working with what we have," she added.