By Steve Lee
With a shot at capturing a second state softball title in five years, Newsome came oh so close—as is a one-run loss in the Class 9A championship game.
The Wolves, who won it all in 2015, lost this year’s state final 3-2 to Lake Worth Park Vista at the Jackie Robinson Training Complex (formerly historic Dodgertown) in Vero Beach.
Nonetheless, Newsome (23-5 overall) had one amazing ride in 2019. The Wolves followed up a stellar 17-4 regular season with a narrow 2-1 win over Palm Harbor for the Class 9A, District 8 title. They breezed through the regionals with three dominating victories that earned them their first state berth since that 2015 championship season.
“There’s a lot of talented players,” said Paul Lindstrom, Newsome’s athletic director. “It was fun. The girls had a good time.”
In the state semifinal, a 13-0 rout of Coral Gables, Newsome displayed its offensive firepower and dominating pitching. Lindsay Harper and Lydia Castro each had three RBIs; Jada Smallwood homered and drove in a pair of runs; and Bailee Leistl scored three times. That was more than enough to back the solid pitching of Mary Beth Feldman, who tossed a three-hitter with 11 strikeouts.
That game marked the fourth straight playoff shutout for the Wolves, who defeated Oviedo 10-0, Palm Harbor 9-0 and Centennial 8-0 in the regionals.
“They hit the ball well and Mary Beth was on fire all the way to the championship,” Lindstrom said, adding that the playoffs “are a different atmosphere.”
Newsome, which had a pair of eight-game winning streaks this season, the second of which partially came in its deep playoff run, dominated from the outset. That was not only reflected in a 9-1 home record but a lopsided 249-53 run advantage in 28 games.
Pacing the offense, which finished with a .382 team batting average, were several top hitters. Providing the power were Jadeyn Ruszkowski (five home runs, 38 RBIs and 25 runs to go along with a .419 average), McKayla Timmons (.486 with eight homers, 37 RBIs and 26 runs) and Smallwood (.446, five homers, 23 RBIs and 21 runs).
There also was plenty of balance with contributions from Leistl (.495, 40 runs and 27 stolen bases), Harper (.411, 25 runs) and Claire Ginder (.312, 17 runs and 17 RBIs).
Like her sister Claire from that 2015 squad, Feldman was dominant as a senior. She went 13-3 with a 1.24 earned run average and 199 strikeouts.
The winning is not likely to end anytime soon for Newsome, which has made the playoffs every season following a 9-10 record in 2014. Since that time the Wolves are 107-27 with a state championship, another state final and three other regional appearances.