Excuses? Newbold ignores them in leading team to title
By DAVE ORNAUER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 9, 2019
CAMP WALKER, South Korea – Call it the championship season that almost wasn’t.
Just nine months after Daegu’s softball team came within a 5-3 loss to Robert D. Edgren of capturing the Far East Division II Tournament title, it appeared the Warriors might not have enough players to put on the field to take that one last step.
And Bethani Newbold, the pitcher on the short end of that finals defeat last May, said the possibility of not having a team had her panicking.
“I was freaking out,” Newbold said. “I love the sport a lot. Slowly through the weeks, I started losing hope. But my father said to just hang in there and have hope, because if you have hope, anything can happen.”
Indeed, only four players returned from the 2018 edition of the Warriors, with four others not just new to the team, but also new to softball.
Along came Rehanna Charley, a senior and a shortstop not new to the game, who transferred from Kosrae in Micronesia. Charley served as a key cog who solidified the infield, Newbold said.
Come the season-opening games, on March 23 at Camp Henry, the Warriors won easily 16-1 and 36-0 over their Korea D-II rivals Osan and Seoul American. But the Warriors realized they had to play with one eye on the diamonds and the other on their health, Newbold said.
“The whole season, it was we hope we don’t get hurt, but play the game that we love,” Newbold said. “A lot of people doubted us at first, but we had to push out the doubt and believe in ourselves.”
That the Warriors did, going 7-2 in the regular season with their only losses coming against Division I Humphreys.
At Far East in Japan, Daegu went 3-1 in pool play, then bulldozed to the final where the Warriors beat Yokota 9-2 for Daegu’s first D-II title in six years. That came minutes after Humphreys won the school’s first Division I title.
“That was awesome,” coach Joy Sims said of Daegu’s title and the Korea sweep. “Words almost can’t describe how emotional that moment was.”
Newbold was one of the Warriors’ sparkplugs, earning the D-II Most Valuable Player award and Stars and Stripes Pacific softball Athlete of the Year honors.
She batted 22-for-31 with nine home runs and 42 RBIs in the regular season and struck out 31 batters in nine regular-season games. During Far East, Newbold batted .350 with four extra-base hits and six RBIs and pitched every inning of six games, striking out 23 batters.
And all that was with a left knee injured during basketball; Newbold played point guard and led the Warriors to the D-II final, where they lost to Zama.
“When you have confidence and know you can do something, you do it,” Newbold said. “I don’t like letting down my teammates. I made a commitment, so if I have to give 102 percent, I block out the pain. I do what I have to do.”
The key moment of the season was the third time the Warriors played Humphreys in the regular season; Daegu beat the Blackhawks 10-4.
“If you beat Humphreys, you get a boost of confidence and that confidence was what we needed. It made a difference,” Newbold said.
“That solidified our Far East,” Sims said of her small group of players. “An excellent group of girls that bonded so well together. They were different personalities, but they worked so well together.”
People at the D-II tournament “asked us if nine was all we had,” Newbold said. “If you can do all that with the minimum, it shows you don’t have to have a lot to do something big.”
Pacific All-Far East softball team
Humphreys – Isabel Maulsby, Xyra Razon, Racquel Barnes, Adaiyah Recheungel; Daegu – Bethani Newbold, Reyanne Belford, Rehanna Charley; Nile C. Kinnick – Kim Nelson, Tori Osterbrink; Yokota – Adrianna Diaz; American School In Japan – Soo Park; Zama: Aika Davis; Osan: Satomi Swayne.