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Ferriday Gators head to World Series for last time as team

Ferriday Gators softball pitcher Mollie Devening hurls a pitch during a team practice Tuesday inside the batting cages at Cathedral High School. (Jay Sowers / The Natchez Democrat)
Ferriday Gators softball pitcher Mollie Devening hurls a pitch during a team practice Tuesday inside the batting cages at Cathedral High School. (Jay Sowers / The Natchez Democrat)

Ferriday — The Ferriday Gators softball team is hoping to end their Dixie Youth career with a bang at the Dixir Debs World Series in Alexandria, La.

The Gators will retire half of its squad after playing together for years once returning from the World Series

Pitcher and outfielder Laura Perilloux said they have to make it count.

“This is our last year as a complete group, and this is our last chance to bring the title back to Ferriday,” Perriloux said.

Pitcher and first baseman Molly Devening said, as the days get closer, things get more nerve racking.

This will be Devening’s last year as a Gator, and she said she doesn’t plan on playing softball on the collegiate level.

“It’s exciting, but it makes me nervous, I just have to leave it all out there because this is it,” Devening said. “This will be the last six games I will ever play.”

With that motivation, the Gators have taken to the field in five of the last six days before leaving for Alexandria Saturday.

Head coach Rut Horne said his team has done a great job this season, and he wants to make sure they’re well oiled for the series.

“We’re going to do the same things that brought us here,” Horne said. “And that’s play a lot of small ball.”

Practice consists of several fundamental drills to keep his players’ game intelligence sharp.

“We’ve got the pitching machine turned up to 60 mph and everybody goes through (about 90 balls) in a turn, and I work with all five pitchers individually for 30 minutes each,” he said. “Then we head out to the field and go over game situations. They only practice the positions they’ll play.

“So they’re learning all of the intricacies of their respective positions.”

The Gators have gone 24-1-2 this season and dominated most of their opponents in the process. In the district tournament, the Gators scored 72 runs and allowed two. In the state tournament, they scored 6 runs and allowed 19.

But things got a little shaky in the regional tournament, and Horne said he had to change his defensive strategy.

“Normally, I let one pitcher go three innings, one go two inning and then I have a closer,” Horne said. “But in our last two games, I kept the same pitcher in all three innings because the games were getting close.”

Horne said his team knows how to keep a clear head when things go wrong, and that could be something that helps them in the series.

“We’re very aggressive running bases and when we make mistakes, we seem to score two runs right after,” he said.

Perilloux said the team has been together for years, and their chemistry is a big part of their success.

“We’ve practiced a lot together, even on weekends, and we played so much ball together that we know each other, so it’s easy to play together in games,” Perilloux said.

Perilloux said the Gators will head into the series with confidence after a stellar season, but it is vital to not get over confident.

“If we keep doing what we’ve done in our best games, we’ll be fine,” she said. “We just have to make sure we never let up, and we try to get base hits instead of trying to be a hero.”

The Ferriday Gators will play against Virginia in the first round of the World Series at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.