No excuses: Vidalia High returns talented team with experience

Published 12:14 am Monday, February 26, 2018


NATCHEZ — In his second year as head coach, Mike Norris is doing his best to shy away from making excuses.

After losing just one senior to graduation last season, the Vidalia High School Vikings have a plethora of talent back for the upcoming year.

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“We can’t use the excuse that we are young and inexperienced,” Norris said. “It’s not a crutch anymore. We have the talent, and are definitely capable.”

In his first year, Norris was determined to make a statement on the program. He took an even team that finished 12-12 in 2016 to one that finished 18-12 last season.

The Vikings also hosted their first playoff game last year since 2009.

But despite the exponential improvement, Norris said this year will be even tougher.

“Last year there were no expectations. They didn’t think they would win that many,” he said. “This year, the kids feel more pressure because they expect to win, and they know that they know they can win.”

On the list of goals, Norris said, is to win 20 games.

“We thought we should have won 20 last year, but we ended up dropping a couple of silly loses,” he said. “But, this year our schedule is a lot harder. We scheduled a lot of power teams so we can start playing up to the level of competition. I want them to know what good baseball looks like and learn to play that way.”

One key learning curve Norris knows his team will have to work on his its leadership. Upperclassmen such as catcher Cam Rodgers, shortstop Christian Fort and pitcher Tristan Weatherly will have to figure out how to take the reins vocally, Norris said.

“They are still learning how to lead,” he said. “We have a good group of kids, and they are learning how to play better. They know what to expect, but everybody has to do their part.”

Weatherly is ready for the responsibility alongside his teammates.

“I’m excited about our depth this year,” he said. “We have plenty of guys who can step in and fill positions. I’m just trying to keep everybody motivated so they keep their head in the game.”

Vidalia will also have a handful of help from a solid group of freshman, including pitcher Peyton Fort, adding to its depth.

“They’ve already stepped and shown us they can do good things for us,” Norris said. “Peyton has played a lot of baseball, so we look to him to do good things, too.”

Norris said though the Vikings (3-1) have already jumped out to a strong start, he doesn’t expect everything to be easy, hoping his players will learn from those experiences as well.

“The guy that guy should win doesn’t always win,” he said. “Baseball will test your character, and when things aren’t going well we will see how they will respond.

“It should be fun. We just have to get into the flow of things.”

Vidalia will be back in action at 5:30 p.m. today when it travels to Block, weather permitting.