The Newton Indians look to have a strong showing the new newly formed Western Ohio Athletic Conference in 2022.
Longtime coach Kirk Kadel has compiled 536 wins in his 20-year career where he won a state title in 2010, so the legendary coach knows what it takes to be successful.
““We are looking to be more consistent in the field and at the plate,” said Kadel. “We lost a lot of offense from last year, but will be able to score runs playing small ball more consistently.”
Last season the Lady Indians recorded an 8-12 record, but return a nucleus of talent to improve on that mark.
The Newton softball team will field four seniors, two sophomore and six freshmen in 2022 in their first season in the WOAC (Western Ohio Athletic Conference).
The seniors are Ashley Evans (OF, 1B), Camryn Gleason (SS), Laci Miller (P, 1B) and Molly Norman (C, 2B) and the two sophomore players are Grace Davis (OF) and Sarah Willoughby (OF).
The Indians have a large freshman class consisting of Vivian Clark (IF, OF), Cori Hanes (3B, SS), Breanna Ingle (OF, C), Sienna Montgomery (CF, P), Layla VanCulin (1B, P) and Lexis West (2B, 3B).
Kadel’s depth in pitching will allow him to mix things up against different type of opponents. He has three arms he can rely on in Laci Miller, Layla VanCulin and Sienna Montgomery.
His has a pair of catchers who can manage the defense in Molly Norman and Breanna Ingle, while his infield will be strong with Camryn Gleason, Cori Haines and Lexi West. Rounding out the defensive lineup are leaders in the outfield, Sienna Montgomery and Ashley Evans.
“Our overall team defense should be improved,” Kadel said. “And with a little more depth in our pitching we should be able to stay fresh and consistent.”
Nick Rhoades returns for his 14th season as the track coach at Newton where he returns plenty of talent on the boys and girls squads.
For the girls, sophomore Reese Hess returns as the top sprinter and long jumper, while senior MkKenna Downing is the top distance runner. Downing was a district placer a year ago in the 800 meter ruin and was also a state qualifier in cross country this past fall.
“The girls team has a nice core back from last season,” Rhoades said. “We graduated a large amount of field events, but have several runners back that are hungry and want to a have a good showing when it counts.”
For the boys, Rhoades is blessed to have a large number of athletes.
“The boys team continues to have strong numbers, but an interesting mix of seniors and freshmen,” Rhoades stated. “The graduation of Dawson (Hildebrand) in the throws and a strong sprint group finds us relying on the mid-distance and distance groups this year.”
Senior Lane Kesling returns after qualifying for state in the 400 meter dash in 2021. Also contributing greatly will be distance runners senior Robert Ingle and freshman Seth Coker. Coker was the WOAC runner of the year in Cross Country and Ingle earned first-team honors in Cross Country.
Lane will be a focal point for the team and we will built from there,” said Rhoades. “This group will be fun to watch grow throughout the season.”
Jordan Kopp returns for his fifth season as the Newton baseball coach where he has built a solid program. The Indians are coming off of a 19-5 season a year ago where they were the Cross County Conference champions with a 9-2 league record.
Newton graduated six seniors from last year’s team – Ross Ferrell, Amorie Maxwell, Mitchell Montgomery, Johnathan Willoughby, Caden Sweitzer and Alex Kool.
Going off of the 2021 roster, the Indians return seniors Carson Knupp, Lane Bayer and Colin Tackett, as well as juniors Blake Reish, Aiden Kelley, Max Bair, Hudson Montgomery and Harold Oburn. Three sophomores also return; Daniel Lucente, Tyler Schauer and Nolan Denlinger.
“We will be very young, but will have some depth on the mound,” Kopp said. “We will start five players that have no varsity experience, so we will lean on our four returning starters for great leadership.”
After competing for years in the now extinct Cross County Conference, the Indians will compete in the WOAC (Western Ohio Athletic Conference).
“This is the first year in the new conference where we expect to be very competitive,” said Kopp. “Our goal will be to finish in the top half of the league.”
Many of the Newton players put in the time in the summer and the offseason to improve on their skills.
“We are excited to see what the new faces in our program can do once the games start,” summarized Kopp. “Our defense and ability to manufacture runs will determine our success for the 2022 season.”