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Newsome relies on transfer's arm

By BRYAN BURNS
Published May 11, 2007


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After scoring 50 runs in six playoff games, there's no doubt the Newsome High School softball team's high-octane offense has propelled the Wolves to the state finals.

Still, there's more to Newsome's success than red-hot bats. The unwavering play of pitcher Ashley Stubbs, a transfer from East Bay who arrived at Newsome before her junior year, is fueling the team's run.

In 19 starts, Stubbs has a team-leading 13 wins and 107 strikeouts to go with a 1.39 ERA. That gives Newsome a reliable starter who can keep games close, something it didn't have last season when it finished third in the district and missed the playoffs.

"Last year, we didn't have the depth in our pitching and the workhorse that Ashley's been this year, " Newsome coach Jessi Kowal said. "She's come in and done a great job in high-pressure situations. You can see when she's in a tough game she's in the zone and completely focused."

Stubbs struggled early in the season, losing her first two starts to Plant City and Riverview. But in 17 starts since then, she is 13-2 and has a seven-game winning streak that includes six complete games.

"My first game against Plant City, I got taken out early, " Stubbs said of the five-inning performance when she gave up seven runs. "I was playing for a new school, new catcher, new team. It was nerve-wracking. But once I got to know the coach and my team, I became more comfortable and it has shown in my pitching."

Stubbs played two years at East Bay but transferred to Newsome on special assignment. "Newsome just fits me so much better now, " she said. "I've never been happier at a school."

Kowal is just as pleased with having one of the county's top pitchers fall into her lap.

"She throws well with the speeds, " Kowal said.

"She's not the fastest pitcher in the state, but she's fast enough. She has good control of her pitches and throws the right pitch for whatever the situation calls for. She has confidence in her pitches."

Stubbs also has been helped by eight regular-season starts against teams that later made the playoffs. She was 5-2 in those games.

"[Coach Kowal] never pitched me against one weak team, " Stubbs said.

"She would start a freshman to get them experience. Sometimes, I didn't think it was fair when I was struggling early. But now I understand why she did it. It made me a better pitcher and better prepared to face the tougher teams in the playoffs."

That includes teams such as West Boca Raton, which faces Newsome (23-5) at 7 tonight at Plant City Stadium in the Wolves' first-ever state semifinal game.

"We just have to keep doing what we've been doing, " Stubbs said. "We have to have a lot of confidence in ourselves and believe we'll win."

[Last modified May 10, 2007, 07:40:41]


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