Slow start has Lady Rams hoping for strong finish

COVINGTON -- Newton's softball team may not have started its season the way head coach Virginia Waters would have liked -- only getting one win so far -- but she's not in panic mode.

"We have some good talent, we just have to figure out how to get it out of them. I think that's the hardest thing right now because there's complacency when you don't need it," Waters said. "Our biggest thing so far is finishing ballgames. In the (Spalding) tournament, we should have been 3-2 or 4-1 easily. We were up going into the bottom of a couple of games and we let them come back and get us. As soon as we figure out how to close out a ball game we'll be fine. That has to come from the girls. We can run drills all day long but until we can finish ball games there's nothing much we can do as coaches."

The Lady Rams lost four 4-year starters, including the catcher, first baseman, center fielder and shortstop, which has a lot to do with the lack of consistency Waters is looking to end. Even though she has five seniors on the field in Letice Albert, Marie Diaz, DeAunna Jackson, T'Keyuh Williams and Val Yates, the problem is getting the four starting freshmen and those seniors on the same page.

"You can tell they're not seasoned yet as far as coming up knowing where to throw the ball or what play to make. As far as the team goes, they haven't meshed yet. I guess I've taken for granted over the years that I had so many that have played with me for so long that they know each other. When you get thrown into the mix with a bunch of new girls it takes time to learn the older girls," Waters said.

While some things will remain the same, like Albert controlling the defense in the circle, others will change. A couple of major changes are the move of Diaz from second base to shortstop and Yates behind the plate from right field.

"She's still pitching full games regardless of the score or how well they (opponents) are picking up her pitches," Waters said of Albert. "I can't say enough about her stepping up again to do that."

The freshmen whom Waters is counting on to become the foundation of the Lady Rams team for the next four years are Ciara Bryan, Ashton McKinnon, Shelbi Landreau, Shan Walker and Caitlin Bowen.

Teaching the freshmen about the team with the seniors are junior Bri Weaver and sophomore Kortnii Farley.

Despite a 1-6 start in their first seven games, Waters takes comfort in knowing that those games are meaningless. It's not until the start of Region 2-AAAAAA play at Alcovy on Sept. 11 that the games count.

"We have a lot of time before region starts and region is all that counts. But I'm not used to not having more wins before region," Waters said.

"I expect to finish top four like we always do. But it all depends on the girls. They have to be as confident as I am in their ability and we have to put it together. We have to stay focused and really finish the ballgames. Teams aren't beating us, we're letting them beat us."