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Braves excited to host tourney

VIDALIA — Advance Sports Braves catcher Andrew Brown will finally get to play travel baseball without actually having to travel very far.

As a member of the USSSA 10-and-under travel baseball team from Vidalia, Brown has journeyed to different fields in Mississippi and Louisiana. But with the new recreation complex opening in Vidalia comes the chance to play at home for a change — and the Braves will get to do just that.

Vidalia will host the Vidalia Invitational USSSA tournament for the 10-and-under Double-A division March 2 and 3 at the complex. For the first time, Brown said he’s excited he’ll get to play on the new fields.

“I can’t believe they (built them),” Brown said happily. “It’s beautiful. It’s like the fields in Monroe, (La.), except they’re way better than those.”

Sam Mosby fields a practice throw in front of Advance Sports Braves teammates during one of the USSSA travel ball club’s practices at the old Vidalia recreation baseball fields. (Ben Hillyer \ The Natchez Democrat)

Teammate Matt Petty, 10, agreed with Brown and said he’s glad other teams will get to come to Vidalia.

“It’s cool that Vidalia will be able to host the tournament, and we don’t have to get in a hotel,” Petty said. “We can just stay in our house.”

Braves assistant coach Ronnie Brown said the team was trying to schedule another USSSA event at the complex, though it wasn’t 100 percent confirmed at this time.

“This is done in Jackson, Baton Rouge and Monroe, and we’ve been having to drive at least 100 miles since we started up four years ago,” Ronnie said.

“It’s going to be nice for the boys to have a home field, and for the community, I think it’s going to be huge. The complex we have is as nice as any of the ones we’ve played in.”

Practice started up two weeks ago for the Braves, Ronnie said, and the focus has been pitching, catching and fielding so far.

“We haven’t done any hitting (yet),” Ronnie said.

Ronnie said the team’s focus during practices helps the players stand out amongst their peers, especially since they’re not limiting baseball to the summer.

“We get more done in an hour, whereas most teams would take two hours,” Ronnie said. “Their attention span is locked in.”

Ronnie also said he enjoys helping coach players that he doesn’t have to drag out to practice.

“They want to come,” he said. “They ask us when practice is, and they never ask us when it’s over.”

Petty said everyone’s love for the game is what keeps them coming out every time there’s a practice, without complaint.

“Everyone on the team likes the sport,” Petty said. “I like coming out here and learning how to pitch and play the positions better.”