Jay Sowers / The Natchez Democrat — Raegan Prather, 4, from left, Faith Taunton, 3, and Riley Butts, 3, wait on a bench before playing in a game at the new Vidalia Recreation Complex.
Jay Sowers / The Natchez Democrat — Raegan Prather, 4, from left, Faith Taunton, 3, and Riley Butts, 3, wait on a bench before playing in a game at the new Vidalia Recreation Complex.

An early start: Young athletes get start in wee ball

Published 12:01am Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The next group of baseball and softball stars in the Miss-Lou are enjoying an earlier start to their career than those that played before them.

Every Monday and Thursday evening, the softball fields at the new Concordia Parish Recreation District 3 complex in Vidalia are buzzing with the sights and sounds of wee ball.

Jay Sowers / The Natchez Democrat — Zoe Zuccaro, 3, gets a little help with the bat from Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office wee ball coach Amy McCarthy before taking a swing.
Jay Sowers / The Natchez Democrat — Zoe Zuccaro, 3, gets a little help with the bat from Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office wee ball coach Amy McCarthy before taking a swing.

Open to children ages 3 or 4, the new league gives them experience behind the plate, on the base paths and in the field.

Greg Young, president of the Vidalia Girls Softball League, said the experience will benefit the young athletes in the very near future.

“When they get up to regular tee ball,” Young said, “they’ll know what to do now.”

Young said between 115 and 120 players are signed up for the inaugural season of wee ball.

“It’s been amazing how easily it’s falling together this year,” Young said. “The complex has done wonders for us.”

More so than any lessons about the game, Vidalia resident Andrew Dye said his daughter Shaniya, 3, just enjoys playing with the other children.

Dye said he couldn’t help but smile as he watched her race around the infield last Thursday, talking and laughing with her young teammates.

“She loves it a lot,” Dye said.

Misty Thomas said her son Gage, also 3, looks forward to game day more than anything else these days.

““He loves it,” Thomas said. “Nothing else in the world matters to him.”

Surely these athletes are learning the basics of a game they may play for many years, but more importantly, they are learning the value of teamwork and simple fun.

The young batters might not be facing an opponent’s most deceiving pitch when they step to home plate, but they concentrate just as hard on the ball resting on the tee.

JAY SOWERS / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Carson Graves, left, collides with fellow four-year-old Amaus Reed as the two chase after a baseball during in a wee ball game on Thursday evening at the new Vidalia Recreation Complex.
JAY SOWERS / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Carson Graves, left, collides with fellow four-year-old Amaus Reed as the two chase after a baseball during in a wee ball game on Thursday evening at the new Vidalia Recreation Complex.

The tiny infielders might not be trying to make the final out in the bottom of the ninth, but once the ball is hit from the team, they chase after it, often running into, or even over, their teammates.

These are the memories the children will make between the base paths. Memories they might remember, but memories that parents such as Dye won’t soon forget.

“It is a fun thing,” Dye said. “It’s something a Dad could always dream of, watching their kid play ball.”