TAMPA, Fla. - Every sports team has their own experience of last year being stripped by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the case of Newsome softball, it meant not being denied redemption after losing the 2019 state championship.
"To have that comeback year the next year thinking 'this is our year to show them what we got,' and then not being able to have that year was disappointing," head coach Ally Ledenham said.
"It was really devastating, not getting to play my junior year," senior Jadeyn Ruszowski added. "I thought we had a really good chance to go to states again, and hopefully win it."
When the Wolves also lost nine division one college commits to graduation that means this year's squad would rely heavily on underclassmen.
"Honestly, I really wasn't that worried about it," Ruszowski said. "I knew that we would step up and fill the holes that the seniors left behind."
With seven underclassmen hitting .350 or better Newsome finds themselves undefeated with the playoffs just around the corner. Leading the way for the younger players is freshman phenom Karly Shelton. Shelton leads the team in just about every hitting category. Only four players across the state of Florida have hit more home runs than Shelton.
"I have to stay locked in every at-bat," Shelton said. "I just hit the ball hard, and whatever happens, happens."
"We heard of her coming in here, but I try to take travel ball and everything I hear with a grain of salt," Ledenham said of her new star freshman. "She has been outstanding."
Being fueled by youth is well and good, but a lack of experience could come back to haunt any team. Jadeyn Ruszowski doesn't see it that way.
"Most of us have been there before," the Clemson commit said. "(And) Even if we haven't most of our travel ball girls have been in big games so everyone is experienced in postseason."