Vidalia 14U all-star softball team eager for regional play

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 21, 2017

Vidalia’s 14-and-under Little League Softball team breezed to a state championship on its home ground almost two weeks ago. Its next challenge, however, is a 15-hour car ride away.

Donald Bertelsen’s all-star squad will compete in this weekend’s Junior League Southwest Regional in Albuquerque, N.M., with its first game slated for 12:30 p.m. Saturday.

“This is foreign water we are going to, across a few states,” Bertelsen said. “When you get to a big game, you get that feeling. It is going to be a new experience.”

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After sweeping Lake Charles in a best-of-three series, Bertelsen said he thinks his team is eager to feel that success again.

“We had a solid win in state, and we hit the ball really well,” he said. “I think what is going to carry us is their want. They want this really bad. The excitement is going to hit them when we get there and they walk on that field.”

While Bertelsen said he expects high quality competition, he is confident Vidalia’s determination will be a huge benefit.

The Southwest Region is composed of seven teams, and just one will advance to the league’s World Series.

“It’s not easy to get to this next level. It’s a big tournament,” he said. “They do understand that they are there to play ball, and we are not there on vacation.”

Besides actual game play, Bertelsen said he is grateful for the chance to travel — something he said his players should treasure for years to come.

Bertelsen also said Vidalia has received tremendous help from people on both sides of the Mississippi River to make the trip possible.

“I love seeing them excited and ready to go,” he said. “Whether we win or lose, that’s unknown, but we are going for life-long memories. If we get that, we are in good shape.

“Both communities helped us out, so we got that part out of the way,” he said. “It is expensive, but I want them just to play and have fun. If we have fun, nine out of 10 times we win.”