Vidalia softball team carries world ranking to Florida

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 19, 2006

VIDALIA &8212; A group of young girls in Vidalia have come together and produced something quite special.

The Vidalia Angels, an 8 and Under softball team competing in the USSSA, have racked up three tournament wins and climbed all the way to a No. 5 world ranking in their class in the USSSA rankings.

Steve Hill, head coach of the team, said these Angels were among the best he had seen since he began coaching in the area.

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&8220;I&8217;ve been coaching here seven years,&8221; Hill said. &8220;This is probably one of the best 8 and Under teams we&8217;ve ever had here. I know they&8217;re the best one we&8217;ve had since I&8217;ve been here.&8221;

The Angels qualified for the USSSA World Series in Orlando, Fla., in June with a win in the qualifying tournament in Scott, La. The World Series will take place July 18-23. The Scott win earned them the No. 1 ranking in the state of Louisiana and their current perch in the world rankings. Vidalia currently sports an 11-3 overall record on the year, and they are undefeated in Louisiana.

They competed in the state tournament in Louisiana this weekend, but results were not yet available at press time.

&8220;We&8217;ve beaten the top two teams in Mississippi, and all the teams in Louisiana,&8221; Hill said.

Many youth league coaches wait a lifetime to assemble a team capable of going all the way, and assistant coach Brent Smith said he doesn&8217;t expect to see another team like this one anytime soon.

&8220;This is a special group of girls,&8221; he said. &8220;I don&8217;t think you&8217;ll get another one like this one for a while. I can&8217;t think of a better group of girls to represent the state of Louisiana in the World Series.&8221;

Hill agreed with Smith&8217;s assessment.

&8220;They all get along good and they work really hard,&8221; he said. &8220;They all just want to play ball. I haven&8217;t seen a group that wants to play as much as they do. We have a chance to do something here that we haven&8217;t seen before.&8221;

In the meantime, Smith said fundraising and practice would be the main objectives before the World Series.

&8220;Right now the biggest obstacle is money,&8221; he said. &8220;We&8217;re going to have a spaghetti sale and do a couple of other things. We&8217;re just going to keep practicing and keep working and hopefully we can get down there and make things happen.&8221;