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Newland comes home to lead South Effingham softball
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Jessica Evans
Jessica Evans - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff

By Donald Heath

Special for the Effingham Herald

GUYTON — The softball landscape at South Effingham will have a new look in the fall.

Area native Adam Newland, who played baseball at Effingham County High School, will take over the Mustangs’ head softball coaching job, replacing Jessica Evans, who left to coach closer to her home at Mary Persons.

“You can look outside (seeing region and state softball appearance banners) and see all the success they’ve had over the years, so you know the (South Effingham) job is attractive,” said Newland, who coached softball at Athens Christian before leading Collins Hill’s program for the last three years.

Evans had a lot to do with increasing SEHS softball banners. In two years, her Mustangs compiled a 51-11-1 record with a Region 2-AAAAAA title and two state tournament appearances.

The 2020 team, coming off a 20-loss season, finished with a 28-4-1 record, won the region and advanced to the Elite Eight at state.

“What we accomplished in two years was a great feat,” Evans said. “All the players bought in. You don’t have to teach winning at South Effingham. We had great players, a great coaching staff and with all that, plus the support we had, I think that made it two great seasons.

“Coaching is more than wins and losses. It’s loving the kids. I’ll miss them. I’m thankful for the opportunity.”

But a chance to get closer to home was equally important for Evans, who grew up and still has family in Lamar County. Mary Persons, located in Forsyth, is just one county away.

Newland, 36, also saw the chance to return home. He was a catcher and played baseball four years for ECHS before graduating from the University of Georgia. He coached baseball at Berkmar but eventually moved into softball with highly regarded travel club power Georgia Impact.

Adam’s brother Scott Newland played baseball at the University of Georgia and his father, Duane Newland, was an assistant baseball coach with the Rebels.

While in town to conduct tryouts last week, Adam Newland said pitching Jesse Osborne and assistant Kristin Seckinger will be joined by Stephanie Hartness — an all-American at North Georgia — on the coaching staff.

Assistant Todd Eubanks, who coached the SEHS baseball team, left to coach the baseball and softball teams at Woodland High School.

Junior pitcher Bailey Kendziorski will lead a strong returning nucleus at SEHS. The Mustangs won 23 games last season and advanced to the second round of state.

“(When) you coach softball in the state, you’re tracking teams and how they’re doing,” said Newland, who watched several SEHS games on the NFHS Network streaming service. “I have somewhat of an idea (of the players’ abilities) but then again it’s a small sample size. We’ll see how they progress during the summer.”