Horne, Smith’s youth softball squads face off in practice games

Published 12:11 am Wednesday, July 21, 2010

VIDALIA — The doubleheader between the Vidalia 18-and-under youth softball team and the 16-and-under team Tuesday was a classic case of teacher versus pupil — even though the games didn’t technically “count.”

Rut Horne’s 16-and-under girls squared off against Miranda Smith’s 18-and-under girls. Smith, who played for Horne in the Dixie Girls league when she was younger, said it’s not easy going up against him as a coach.

“It’s intimidating to me, because as a coach, it’s me wanting to impress him. I’m always wondering about things like, did I call the right signal?” Smith said.

Smith’s squad came out on top in game one 9-5, and Horne’s team took the second game 12-9.

The two squads played a practice doubleheader Tuesday in preparation for both teams’ regional tournaments. The 18-and-under team will play July 28 in Monroe, and the 16-and-under team will play July 30 in Pineville.

After many years of coaching in the Dixie Girls league, Horne switched both teams over to Little League Softball this summer.

“I think there���s more PR in Little League because of the national exposure, with the World Series being on ESPN2. Of course, you have to get there,” Horne said.

So far, though, the level of competition isn’t what it was in the Dixie Girls league, Horne said.

“In Louisiana, it’s less than what we’ve seen in the Dixie league, because there have been less teams,” Horne said.

And after winning district several weeks ago, his girls have only been able to play practice games against the 18-and-under team since then.

“It’s really tough. It’s been four weeks since we won district. We have a three-team district, and one dropped out, so we played two games in Alexandria,” Horne said.

“We need to play more games to get ready, so we’ve been playing in-house versus the older group.”

The pickings have been even slimmer for Smith’s squad, which has yet to play against a team other than Horne’s.

“We didn’t even play in a district. Our only games we’ve played have been against them,” Smith said.

“It’s tough, because when we get to regionals, we don’t really know what to expect. One good thing about playing Rut’s team, though, is that they’re good competition.”

Even so, with a month’s layoff between district and regional play, Horne said it’s hard to get all of his players to show up to practice every time.

“There’s a lot going on in the summer, and it’s hard for some people to catch rides. We have four players not here tonight, and only two are playing their natural positions,” Horne said.