Samantha Walz was named Player of the Year.

Newsome High School softball senior Samantha Walz was named the Jack and Barbara Thompson Player of the Year after proving her skill and consistency as a right fielder.

“Sam really broke out of her shell this year. She has grown on and off the field and it’s been fun to watch. I’m blessed to have been a part of her journey,” said coach Ally Ledenham.

Walz was awarded the Player of the Year title after finishing the season with a .468 batting average and 25 runs. After four years on the team, she graduated with 115 hits and 75 stolen bases.

“It’s a big title. I was surprised and shocked I was awarded it. … I put in a lot of work and to see it play off was really cool,” said Walz.

Ledenham said Walz’s speed and consistency earned her the countywide title. Walz has batted leadoff for the Wolves over the last two seasons and set the tone for Newsome’s offense.

“It was really cool; … being back-to-back district champions was something that was really cool for this group of girls,” said Walz.

Newsome’s team won the FHSAA Class 7A District 6 championship at the beginning of May, shutting out Durant in the semifinals and beating Winter Haven 7-1 in the district championship.

“This year, our team chemistry was our greatest strength. With a roster of 20, it’s rare to have a team where everyone gets along. Everyone showed up every day happy to be there and ready to work. It made the season a lot of fun,” said Ledenham. “They were each other’s biggest supporters and that made all the difference.”

This season, the Wolves only had four returning starters and Walz was the only returner to play the same position. They were forced to start from scratch, going back to the fundamentals to build a playoff worthy team.

“By the end of the season, you would have never known that some girls weren’t playing in their natural positions. They knew what the team needed and they showed up every day focused and ready to work,” said Ledenham.

For more information on Newsome’s athletics, visit its website at

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Lily Belcher is a writer for The Osprey Observer and Christian Voice Monthly. She started as an intern in the summer of 2020 and has continued to write for the Osprey since completing her internship. Lily plans to attend the University of South Florida and major in Communications while writing for The Oracle.