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Newsome's offense keeps team going in softball playoffs

Newsome High pitcher Ashley Stubbs, here pitching the Wolves to a win against Freedom High on March 28, credits her team’s offense for giving her more confidence in the pitcher’s circle.

KATHLEEN FLYNN | Times

Newsome High pitcher Ashley Stubbs, here pitching the Wolves to a win against Freedom High on March 28, credits her team’s offense for giving her more confidence in the pitcher’s circle.

LITHIA — There are a number of ways to measure the power of Newsome's offense this season.

A quick look at results reveals a host of times the girls' softball team reached double digits in runs scored. Another barometer would be the gaudy statistics up and down the roster. But perhaps the best way to gauge Newsome's potency is to ask a pitcher — like the Wolves' Ashley Stubbs.

"They can just rip," she said. "I have so much confidence in what they can do, it's ridiculous."

Stubbs should know. Newsome's main pitcher faces her own hitters in practice and has seen the damage this talented group can do.

"Outside, inside, high, fastballs … whatever," Stubbs said. "No matter where you put it, they can hit it."

And if the Wolves are to continue on toward the state championships in Plant City, their lineup will be a big reason.

Visiting Newsome takes the next step at 7 tonight in the 5A region semifinals against River Ridge after the Wolves defeated Land O'Lakes 10-6 Tuesday.

"The further you go and the better the competition level, the more concentration comes into play," third-year Newsome coach Jessi Kowal said.

"We were doing some free swinging during the season because sometimes we were only getting one pitch to hit, but now is the time for discipline."

Newsome (19-7) has hit double digits in runs 15 times this season, including scoring 20 or more four times. Newsome also scored 10 or more runs seven times during an eight-game winning streak mid season.

Ten players on the roster are hitting .300 or better, led by Courtney St. Amant (.485) and Ally Ledenham (.450).

"We're very well-balanced and I don't think as coaches that we have any fear of putting any player in the game in a certain situation," Kowal said. "We have complete confidence in all of them."

And this isn't just a slap hitting squad. Newsome has nine homers spread among seven players. Tuesday against Land O'Lakes, Newsome pounded out six doubles including a pair each by Bailey Schinella and Nicollette Levine.

Perhaps more importantly, Newsome has learned to win playing from behind. The Wolves trailed 5-0 against Bloomingdale in the district finals before winning 7-5 and Newsome trailed 2-0 at one point Tuesday before exploding for an eight-run second inning against Land O'Lakes.

"During the season we cracked a little under the pressure and that showed in some tournament losses we had," Kowal said. "I think they're learning that confidence because we don't want them hitting the panic button. We want them hitting the 'Easy' button."

Kowal knows a thing or two about softball. She starred at USF (2000-01), as did assistant coach and former Bull teammate Rachel Williams. Kowal also has former Clearwater Bomber teammate and University of Tampa product Dawn Wallace on a staff that looks young enough to button up a jersey. "I think the kids can relate to us better," Kowal said. "We (coaches) like to hop in there at practice with them. The competition is great."

Tonight's other area region semifinals:

Durant (23-5) at Countryside (23-4), 7 p.m. at Clearwater Recreation Park at Misty Springs

Sunrise Christian (10-5) at Seffner Christian (8-9), 4 p.m.

Newsome's offense keeps team going in softball playoffs 04/24/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 11:53am]

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