COVINGTON -- Mental mistakes, lethargic play on defense and a lack of hitting plagued Newton for the first couple of innings in its 12-4, six-inning win over Stephenson on Thursday.
In the first two innings on defense, the Lady Rams (10-3 overall, 2-1 Region 2-AAAAA) were waiting for the ball to get to them instead of attacking slow grounders, in addition to some of their throws being off the mark.
Offensively, Newton was not patient at the plate leaving runners on third base in the first two innings.
Newton's lack of playing to its capability allowed Stephenson (7-6, 3-1) to take a 2-0 lead after the top of the third.
"I told the girls, this is something we've discussed, you never play down to anybody. We need to continue to play our game and not play to competition and today we really played down to the competition," Newton head coach Virginia Waters said. "We had a problem adjusting and I'm not sure why we couldn't adjust. This is pretty much batting practice pitching. It was like we couldn't see the ball. There should have been maybe one run scored on us. I told the girls that even though this was a win it was probably one of the most disappointing wins, to me, because of the way we played."
Newton finally started becoming more disciplined at the plate in its half of the third inning as the Lady Rams started putting the bat to the ball.
With bases loaded as a result of an error and a couple of bunts, Keyanna Notae hit the ball to Bria Scott in left field. Instead of the play resulting in a run while leaving the bases loaded, Scott let the ball roll up her arm after it hit the ground, clearing the bases and giving Newton the 3-2 edge. Kelsey Swinson, Marie Diaz and Makala Williams all had RBI hits, extending the Lady Rams' lead 6-2.
The Lady Rams went back to bunting in the fourth inning, resulting in three of the first four batters reaching base and scoring three more runs. By this time, Newton realized that the Lady Jaguars catcher could not throw the ball to second base with any velocity or accuracy as they stole six bases in the final three innings.
"We just started taking advantages of their weaknesses," Waters said. "We started bunting a lot more and it finally caught up. But that was after we had gone through the lineup at least once. Our bunting definitely helped in this situation."
Notae paced the Lady Rams at the plate going 3-for-4 with Bri Weaver, Zhan Usher, who also had a double, and Swinson going 2-for-4.
After giving up a couple of runs in the top of the sixth inning, Notae, pitcher Letice Albert and courtesy runner Val Yates crossed the plate to end the game by mercy rule.
In her six innings pitched, Albert allowed seven hits while striking out seven batters and walking one.
Tatyana Givens led the Lady Jaguars with three hits, including a triple, with Sydney Saxon getting two hits with one going for two bases.
"I can't say enough about her (Albert)," Waters said. "She's pitched every single game this season and this is our 14th game. She just allows our defense to work. I'm so thankful she gives us the opportunity and keeps us in every ball game."