Vidalia tops N.M. North

Published 12:01 am Saturday, August 4, 2012

SANTA FE, N.M. — The Vidalia 14 and under Little League softball team was already facing a long trip, high altitudes and blazing heat in its opening game of the Southwest Region Tournament in Santa Fe, N.M.

And Vidalia made things even more difficult on itself by falling behind 4-0 after two innings against New Mexico North.

But the team, which is representing Louisiana in the tournament, managed to overcome the elements and the deficit to come from behind to win the game 5-4 in extra innings.

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“We did real well,” Vidalia coach Donald Bertelsen said. “I think the altitude bothered us still, and we are still starting to ease into that. It was real dry too, and we struggled at first with the bats.”

Bertelsen said a joint effort by starting pitcher Elizabeth Smith and the Vidalia defense kept his team in the game until the bats awoke.

“We made a few errors in the second (inning), but after that we tightened and made a comeback,” he said. “Starting in the third inning, (Smith) regained her composure and pitched lights out. She didn’t allow a hit after the third inning.”

Smith said she was excited that her team was able to win the first game of the tournament and happy to play a big role.

“It was nerve wracking to begin, because I wasn’t doing so well. But after the second inning, I pitched a great game,” she said.

Smith pitched all eight innings and gave up four hits and six walks. She struck out 12 New Mexico batters.

New Mexico held its four-run lead until the bottom of the fifth inning when Vidalia managed two runs on two passed balls.

Vidalia managed to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh inning and had the bases loaded with no outs but could not get the winning run across.

Vidalia then pushed across a run in the bottom of the eighth inning to win the game 5-4.

“We had good strategy,” Bertelsen said. “We played small ball and sacrificed where we could.”

Cassie Gonzales had a big day at the plate for Vidalia. She went 2-for-4 with a double and a triple. Katelynn Bertelsen went 2-for-4 with a triple, Kaitlin Temple went 2-for-3 and Smith went 2-for-4.

The win puts Vidalia at 1-0 in the tournament. The team will face New Mexico South at noon today in the winner’s bracket.

Bertelsen said winning the first game was a big step in winning the tournament.

“It’s huge,” he said. “In the loser’s bracket, we would have to play two games (today).”