Little Angels take state title

Published 12:09 am Thursday, July 10, 2008

VIDALIA — When the Vidalia Little Angels softball team found out at the last minute that their age group in the USSSA state tournament in Cancero, La., last weekend had been canceled, they didn’t complain. They just went there and played anyway.

The Angels, who normally play in the 10-year-old division, moved up to the 12-year-old division and still won the tournament, which qualified them for the USSSA World Series in Fayetteville, Ark.

The team was informed that the 10-year-old tournament had been canceled when other teams dropped out just a few days before it was supposed to take place.

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The USSSA state director met with the Little Angels coaches and determined that the Angels would be given a berth to the World Series but would be able to compete in the 12-year-old division if they wanted to.

“We wanted to get one more tournament in before the World Series started,” Angels head coach Donald Bertleson said. “The girls played hard and came out winners. It was an impressive performance.”

After advancing through group play, the Angels won their semifinal game 5-4 and then romped in the championship game, winning 17-1.

“I’ve got all the faith in the world in these kids,” Bertleson said. “Our motto is ‘Play to win.’ We were all tightened up a bit but the girls wanted it as bad as anyone.”

Little Angels players said they were nervous before the tournament started.

“I was nervous because I didn’t know how we were going to do because we were playing against an older league,” Maddisyn Beard said.

However, other players exuded only confidence before the tournament began.

“We’re good and we knew we could beat them because we’ve played against older teams before,” pitcher Katelin Temple said.

Third baseman Kayla Gilmore agreed.

“I wasn’t really worried because we’re good and I knew we could beat them,” she said.

Bertleson said the team’s confidence is sky high going into the World Series on July 16-20.

“This team has a lot of heart and drive to win,” Bertleson said. “This tournament showed that we could play with anyone.”