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Vidalia 16-and-under All-Stars ready for tournament

VIDALIA — The Vidalia Little League 16-and-under All-Stars aren’t lacking in big-game experience.

After a trip to Sussex County, Del., last year for the 16-and-under World Series, the Vidalia all-stars were eliminated from title contention after starting out 1-2 in the tournament.

Now, Vidalia will look to make it back to the World Series as it plays host to the Little League South Western regional tournament beginning Friday at the Concordia Recreation District 3 complex.

“If we play like we’re capable of playing, we have a really good chance of winning,” Vidalia head coach Micah Hughes said.

“We won it last year, and I think we have a stronger, more experienced team than last year. Everyone has a year under their belts.”

Vidalia hasn’t played a game in more than a month, but Hughes said most of his players play travel ball, which has allowed them to stay in game shape through the down time.

“It absolutely helps,” Hughes said. “Travel ball is what makes ball players — playing year round, you play a lot of good teams and see a lot of good talent.”

With the experience of a World Series berth last year, Hughes said it makes a huge difference when it comes to the mental aspect of the game.

“It’s a big confidence booster,” Hughes said. “They know we can do it and have done it before. Last year, we lost a game in regionals and had to come back and beat East Texas twice to advance. They know no matter what happens, they can always come back and make a good run at it.”

It also helps having the tournament in the girls’ back yards. Last year, Vidalia was technically the host team for regionals, but the games had to be played in Pineville, La., because the old ball fields were unable to accommodate the teams, Hughes said.

“We have home field advantage, in that we know how the fields play,” Hughes said. “They’re a little faster than most fields, and we’re used to that. That’s the biggest advantage, since we played all of our league games there.”

Up first for Vidalia is the Colorado Little League All-Stars, which Vidalia will play at 8 p.m. Friday.