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TRADING PLACES: Foster gels quickly with Lady Vikings as season gets underway

Vidalia High School head softball coach Forrest Foster, right, tosses softballs during a drill in the gym. Foster started coaching at Vidalia in October after coaching at Adams County Christian School for six years. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Vidalia High School head softball coach Forrest Foster, right, tosses softballs during a drill in the gym. Foster started coaching at Vidalia in October after coaching at Adams County Christian School for six years. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

VIDALIA — Forrest Foster has been involved with playing ball or coaching it in one form or another for most of his life.

But when Foster parted ways with Adams County Christian School as head softball coach in August, he had every intention not to ever coach ball again, at least until his grandson was old enough to play tee ball. However, his mindset changed when he found out Vidalia High School was interested in offering him the softball head coach position, as he knew the returning caliber of talent he would inherit.

“To tell you the truth — it’s the reason I came,” said Foster who coached at ACCS from 2008 until 2014. “The administration said they deserve somebody with experience, and the kids were so excited. When you show up for your first meeting and there are 50-plus kids in there, you know you made the right decision.”

Foster is only one game into the season — 1-0 after beating Franklin Parish Saturday — but he’s already won his team over.

“It’s been amazing, it really has,” Foster said. “I told them, ‘We’re going to work on fundamentals until we’re blue in the face.’ The girls have been very receptive of it. I can’t tell you how pleased I am with the way I’ve been received.”

Foster’s transition has been made easier by assistant coaches, as Jackie Johnston and Greg Naquin have worked with the outfield, while Rut Horne has worked with the pitchers, freeing Foster up to work defense with the infielders. Foster said the help has proved valuable, as the team’s fielding has been good thus far in a jamboree contest against one of the best teams in the state, Jena, and against Franklin Parish.

But where Foster has made the most significant impact is on the offensive end, teaching the girls how to bunt and play small ball.

“Not that we didn’t do a lot of hitting stations before, but (Foster) has worked on our hitting a lot more, because he’s all about small ball,” starting pitcher Taylor Rodgers said. “His thing is, if you can’t bunt, you can’t play for us.”

It didn’t take long for the Lady Vikings to showcase this new offensive wrinkle. Against Franklin Parish, Vidalia scored its first run of the 6-3 win with a sacrifice bunt.

“They’ve never played small ball here at Vidalia High,” Foster said. “We brought a different brand here. This weekend we played some small ball, and we showed off a sacrifice squeeze. Boy, the stands went wild.”

Of course, as senior Megan Naquin attested, the practices can be grueling, but seeing the results translate immediately helps keep the positive vibe going.

“He sits there and critiques every single person until you get it right,” said Naquin, describing the hitting drills. “It helps you get better. Look at how we hit Saturday. You see the results.”

Foster said he knew this team was talented before he came, but the range and depth of athleticism has been a pleasant surprise. But most of all, the seniors’ willingness to accept him with open arms has made the career move an ideal one for Foster.

“It’s just been a real good fit,” Foster simply said.

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