Ferriday all-star team eying state tournament run

Published 11:08 pm Wednesday, July 13, 2016

FERRIDAY — Ferriday Gators softball coach Rut Horne has lost track of how many of his Gators teams have been to the Dixie Softball state tournament.

The double-elimination state tournament at the Johnny Downs Recreational Complex begins Friday in Alexandria.

Horne said over the past 15 years his teams have been improving as older, experienced players pass their knowledge to the team’s current crop. Horne said his assistants, Paige Bryan and Ellen Bairnsfather, have been to state approximately five times during their playing and coaching careers.

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The added experience of his players and coaching staff sets Horne’s expectations high.

“We expect to win state every year,” Horne said.

Horne was quick to point out that all it takes is a great game from one team’s ace to crush Ferriday’s chances.

Horne said the best way to match good pitching is to bring out a deep pitching staff of his own.

“The secret to our success over the past years has been good pitching,” Horne said. “If the pitcher is throwing batting practice, fielders get a workout. When they get around two (strikeouts) per inning, there aren’t many fielding opportunities.”

As for the bats, Horne said he relies on power production from the top and middle of his batting order.

“They’ve all hit the ball at times,” Horne said. “Our first five or six batters are capable of hitting it out. We have not had a lot of home runs in game situations, but we don’t strike out a lot.”

Ferriday, 19-3 this summer, will face Beauregard, a team that Horne said was bounced from last year’s state tournament in two games.

Horne said he and his squad are confident regarding their opening-round matchup, but he realizes every team in the tournament got there by beating several teams in the district brackets.

Horne said he expects to see solid, experienced teams in the state tournament.

“On a given day anyone can win,” Horne said. “Every team in the tournament we’ve beaten last year, we just have to take care of business.”

Horne said his team has no room for error this season. His roster of 11 players has dwindled to just nine, due to injuries. Ferriday first baseman Maecee Thornton and pitcher Marty Lewis were held from the district tournament because of injuries, and Dixie Softball requires players on state tournament rosters to also play in the district tournament.

Horne said fostering the minimum nine players puts pressure on his team to stay healthy.

“I tell them be careful,” Horne said. “If you do something stupid, the others pay the price.”

The seven-team tournament is slated to run from Friday to Monday.