Newton shuts out Redan 8-0
Defense, pitching propel Lady Rams to fourth region win
The Newton Lady Rams had no trouble getting their fourth region victory by shutting out The Redan Lady Raiders 8-0 in a five inning run-rule contest Thursday.
Markea Sheppard pitched the shutout for the Lady Rams (8-7 overall, 42 Region-2-AAAAA), allowing only three batters to reach the base paths striking out six and walking four.
The Lady Raiders (1-4 overall, 0-2 Region-2-AAAAA) went down in order on their first trip to the plate in the first inning before Newton came up in their half of the first to score two runs when Meisha Roberts walked, stole second and third, then came home on a wild pitch.
Chaconna Marks followed with a single to right field and moved to second on an overthrow, then to third on a wild pitch. Holly Springer laid down a bunt to the pitcher to sacrifice the Lady Rams’ second run and Newton took a 2-0 lead into the second inning.
In the top of the second, Redan bats still couldn’t catch up to Sheppard’s change up and went down in order again.
Newton picked up two more runs in the bottom of the second when Sami Becker reached first on a fielding error by the second baseman, then stole second before coming home when Chaconna Marks hit a sacrifice fly deep to center. Springer reached first on an error by the second baseman before Becca Brazleton slapped a single to right scoring the runner. The inning ended with Newton increasing their lead 4-0 headed into the top of the third.
Sheppard continued her assault on the Lady Raiders in the third, sending all three batters back to the dugout in order.
The bottom of the third spelled doom for the visitors from DeKalb when the Lady Rams took an 8-0 lead by scoring four runs off one hit in the inning.
Roberts registered the only hit with a leadoff single to left center. The next batter hit a grounder to short for the first out, moving Roberts to second, but she was thrown out trying to move to third.
“They gave it to their best player. I mean, that’s what we did. They did the exact same thing and we were just fortunate enough; Zach was in the right spot and we were fortunate enough to make a play.”
Eastside took an early 7-0 lead after Git Aiken capped a seven-play 55-yard drive with a 7-yard touchdown in the first quarter.
After Newton made two field goals, the Eagles scored two touchdowns in the waning minutes of the first half to take a 21-6 lead into halftime.
Newton came out strong in the second half and DJ Hill scored on an 18-yard run with 9:48 left in the third to close the gap to 21-14. The Rams capitalized on a long return and a short field after Eastside was called for a 15-yard facemask on the kickoff to give Newton the ball on the Eagles’ 32-yard line.
“We have great skill people in the backfield,” Collins said. “If you give us enough time, we’re going to find a way to run the football and be successful."
After back-to-back turnovers, Eastside moved the ball inside Newton’s 5-yard line after Wray hooked up with Kendall Robinson for 22 yards. But a fumble on the play killed the drive and the Rams trailed by one touchdown heading into the fourth quarter.
The Rams started the final drive on the last play of the third quarter and didn't give Eastside the ball until the ensuing kickoff with less than two seconds remaining.
Making things more difficult, the Rams overcame three penalties and converted four fourth downs before Akeem Hunt took an 8-yard sweep around the left edge to clip the pylon and bring his team to within an extra point.
Eastside did its part in aiding the Rams drive as it was flagged twice for pass interference including once in the end zone. Each time the defensive penalty allowed the Rams to convert a fourth down.
“We felt like we were a better team,” Collins said. “We prepared well but we made some critical mistakes in the first half. I thought at halftime we made great adjustments. We came out and executed our game plan the way we wanted to.
“We have to understand we are a better team than people give us credit for being. Now, we have to understand that when we come prepared, we can beat anybody on any given night.”
For the night, McCray tallied 75 yards on 15 carries including a touchdown while Pooler chugged his way to 66 yards on 16 carries.
“One thing I never believed in as a coach is running the option. When I decided to run it this week I toold the guys, ‘you’re going to think I’m crazy, but we can run the option against these guys. We felt if you give us time and we keep going, it would work.”
The option did work. In fact, it worked so well, even Hurst agreed his team was surprised at its effectiveness.
“They came out with that option that we haven’t seen them do and we didn’t tackle the quarterback all day long," he said. "He (McCray) had a field day on us.”
Wray led the way for the Eagles with 88 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown while throwing for 94 yards and one score and Tony Atwater chipped in with 75 yards on nine carries.
Despite nearly suffering a heartbreaking loss, the Eagles came up with plays when they needed them. Even so, Hurst said his team has work to do heading into league play.
“For 12 minutes our defense was out there so they were tired,” Hurst said. “The kids played really hard and did what they had to do and pull out a win."
"They deserved the victory,” Hurst added. “But we have to fix some things before we start region play.”