Loren Cater makes contact with a ball in the batting cage during practice at Concordia Parish Recreation Complex Tuesday. Cater’s team won the Junior League Louisiana State Championship and are playing in regionals. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)
Loren Cater makes contact with a ball in the batting cage during practice at Concordia Parish Recreation Complex Tuesday. Cater’s team won the Junior League Louisiana State Championship and are playing in regionals. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Vidalia 14s get ready for third straight trip to regionals

Published 12:03am Tuesday, July 29, 2014

NATCHEZ — The differences between last year’s Vidalia 14-year old all-star softball team and this year’s are maturity and a higher goal.

The all-star team is a year older with five returning players, and this time around, they don’t just want to go to the 2014 Southwest Regional Tournament — they want to win.

The Vidalia 14s are heading to regionals in Santa Fe, New Mexico, this weekend, and coach Wesley McCarver said his team has learned from their mistakes and is hoping to capitalize on their experience.

“We’re working on defense, our batting and our pitchers practice every day,” McCarver said. “We’re going to continue to work on different pick-off plays and work on things we think we’re going to see there.

“We come out here at 6 p.m. and people say it’s too hot, but you have to be ready for the heat.”

And the heat comes from more than just the temperature at regionals. The competition is much more fierce on the next level, Madison Johnston said.

“There are a lot of good teams there,” she said. “Everybody’s pitchers were faster, and the other team’s committed less errors.”

Alyssa Howard fields a ball during practice at Concordia Parish Recreation Complex Tuesday. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Demcrat)
Alyssa Howard fields a ball during practice at Concordia Parish Recreation Complex Tuesday. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Demcrat)

But Johnston said knowing there are elite teams at regionals doesn’t intimidate her or pitcher Emily Rasco. Rasco said her team is more diverse than it was last year.

“Last year’s team we had four younger people and this year we have a variety of players,” Rasco said. “We have people who can play different positions. We play better as a team.”

Rasco said their mindset would be a key aspect that would determine their regionals fate.

“Staying positive on the field is big and don’t get down on yourself,” Rasco said. “If you strike out or make a bad play, you have to stay up, because if you come in the dugout down, then it effects everybody.”

One of the team’s strengths, McCarver said, is their ability to hit the ball.

If they can get on base early, it is a good indication of how the game will play out, McCarver said.

“Any of the 13 players can hit the ball,” McCarver said. “I have the fastest team I’ve ever had. I have a few that can lay a bunt down and still beat the ball to first base.”

The Vidalia 14s will play the winner of New Mexico and Texas West at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

New Mexico is a team Vidalia is familiar with. Vidalia lost to New Mexico 12-3 last year, but McCarver is confident that there won’t be a repeat of results.

“We had a long talk about intensity, we have to have effort,” McCarver said. “They know what they have to do, they just have to give the effort.”