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Captain Rodgers: Lady Vikings senior finishes varsity career on high note

Vidalia senior softball player Taylor Rodgers batted over .500 this season while leading her team on the mound. Rodgers and the Lady Vikings went  17-7 on the season before losing to John Curtis in the playoffs. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Vidalia senior softball player Taylor Rodgers batted over .500 this season while leading her team on the mound. Rodgers and the Lady Vikings went 17-7 on the season before losing to John Curtis in the playoffs. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

VIDALIA — Vidalia High School’s Taylor Rodgers had nothing to hang her head about when she walked off a softball field for the last time in her high school career.

Although the Lady Vikings suffered a loss at the hands of No. 1 John Curtis in the LHSAA Class 3A playoffs last week, Rodgers’ career ended on a high note.

The senior willed the Lady Vikings to new levels, and was a major part of turning around the softball program.

“It was really cool because this community has given so much to us, and we just want to give back to them,” said Rodgers of being a part of this year’s team. “It may be through a little sport, but if we can give some hope back to them for the program, that is really cool.”

Rodgers found herself staring down varsity competition as a freshman, but for her, that wasn’t a big worry.

“I was just out there playing and having fun,” she said. “I just happened to be all right at it.”

Rodgers pitched sporadically early in her career, but last year, she was handed the ball and asked to step into the circle nearly every game.

“I was the only true dominant pitcher that we had, so I pitched nearly every game,” she said. “It was fun. I like playing, so it wasn’t like a burden or anything.”

Success quickly followed, as Rodgers found a groove, which carried into this season.

But before the Lady Vikings stepped onto the field, they were already having to deal with a change — new head coach Forrest Foster.

“I was kind of on edge, but once he started coming to practice and we started doing things differently to better ourselves, it was a whole lot better,” Rodgers said. “We knew we were going to go further this year.”

And the Lady Vikings did, advancing to the second round of the playoffs and recording one of the best regular season records in school history.

Rodgers credited the coaching staff for the success.

“Having a coaching staff that cares about us and is going to push us harder helps,” she said. “They know a whole lot more about the game than we do.”

But having an ace like Rodgers on the mound helps, too, and Vidalia leaned on her heavily in the circle all season.

“You have to just work at it and have stamina,” said Rodgers of being a good pitcher. “I pitch every day we have practice. It is a lot of muscle memory and you have to keep going through it. Practicing is what makes you better.”

Rodgers’ game is nowhere near one-dimensional, though, and the senior was one of the leading hitters for the Lady Vikings.

“It is really rewarding because you’re helping the team not only in the field, but also on offense,” Rodgers said. “It is fun.”

Rodgers hit in the heart of the Vidalia order and proved she belonged there by showing solid power at the plate. She said a camp she attended was a major difference-maker in her swing.

“When I was a sophomore I went to an Ole Miss softball camp and their coach taught me to use my whole body and not just my arms or hips,” she said. “You have to use everything and swing with all you have. That made me a better hitter.”

Although her high school career is over, Rodger’s doesn’t plan to stay away from the game for too long. While she is still undecided on whether or not she will play at the collegiate level, she knows her future will involve softball.

“My plan is to finish college and then come back here and coach,” she said. “Once I get back into it, it is going to be fun.”

Rodgers plans on attending the University of Louisiana at Monroe in the fall.

 

 

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