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State softball: Newsome gets straight to business, no sprinkles needed

The Wolves, who used a little candy flair in their 2015 title run, dispatch Coral Gables 13-0 to reach another final.
Newsome sophomore Jadeyn Ruszkowski cheers and points to teammate Lydia Castro moments after Castro blasted a triple in the first inning to send Ruszkowski home. (SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times)
Published May 24
Updated May 24

VERO BEACH — Four years ago, Newsome made history — and gained notoriety — with its first state title.

After recording the final out in the championship game, the Wolves were doused with a mountain of sprinkles from coaches and parents as they headed to the award stand.

The sprinkle showers were a spoof on the Progressive insurance commercial in which Flo says at the end: “Sprinkles are for winners.” Progressive was so impressed that it came to film a segment during the Wolves’ title run and even brought T-shirts, and of course, sprinkles.

That title put the softball program on the map. The Wolves were ranked nationally the next season. But it did not result in more trips to Vero Beach’s Jackie Robinson Training Complex.

Newsome junior Daniela Waldron gets off to a happy start after catching her pre-game Starburst candy, a treat tossed to each player before games. (SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times)

Until Thursday, when Newsome made its first state semifinal trip since its lone title.

None of the players on the current roster was on that team. And there was no catchy gimmick used as motivation this time.

RELATED: A bond forged in D.C. resumes at Newsome

Instead, the Wolves simply relied on their talented lineup to cruise to a 13-0 victory over Coral Gables in the semifinals.

Newsome (23-4) will play Park Vista in Friday’s final.

There were some thing the Wolves did to regain that championship feel, such as staying in the same hotel from four years ago. And they have a pair of starters, pitcher Mary Beth Feldman and outfielder Bailee Leistl, who were in the stands — armed with sprinkles — for that last title to watch their older sisters.

Newsome starter Mary Beth Feldman does not allow a run, posting her fourth straight shutout. (SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times)

Leistl got Newsome off to a strong start. The USF signee led off with a walk, stole two bases and scored on a passed ball. Jadeyn Ruszkowski, who walked, scored on Lydia Castro’s triple for a 2-0 lead in the first inning.

“I was here four years ago and pelted my sister with sprinkles,” said Leistl, who went 2-for-3 and scored three runs. “I was so happy for them to have that opportunity. Ever since being here in eighth grade, it’s been my dream to get back. I’ve been working for four years to get here. Seeing Brooke (her older sister) do it just built a fire in my heart and now it’s a reality.”

RELATED: First inning all Newsome needs to set state fate

Newsome’s offense kept piling it on. In the second inning, the Wolves scored five more, highlighted by Lindsey Harper’s two-run single and Jada Smallwood’s two-run homer. They added five more in the third inning and finished it off by scoring five in the fifth.

Newsome had 15 hits, including three each by Harper and Castro.

Newsome senior leadoff hitter Bailee Leisti gets a hug from third-base coach Greg Feldman during a very productive night. (SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times)

“We were confident coming in tonight,” Castro said. “It’s amazing, the best feeling in the world. It means a lot (to win another title) because that 2015 team was so good.”

Big leads were nothing new. After all, Newsome’s lineup is stacked with major Division I-A recruits. The Wolves average nine runs per game and entered Thursday’s semifinal having outscored foes by a combined 27-0 in three postseason games.

The offensive outburst was more than enough for Feldman, a Utah signee. The senior did not allow a run, recording her fourth straight shutout.

State softball final

Jackie Robinson Training Complex, Vero Beach

Admission: $9 advance, $12 day of; parking $10

Class 9A: Newsome vs. Lake Worth Park Vista, 8:05 p.m. Friday

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