Wacky Wednesday: Vikings ready for third round of playoffs with touch of fun

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 3, 2018

Every Wednesday, the Vidalia High School baseball team has a competition — and no, not quite the kind of competition it will see this weekend when it travels to play the state’s No. 1 team in the third round of the LHSAA Class 2A playoffs.

This is the kind of competition that holds the simple honor of bragging rights, and this Wednesday, that happened to be crazy sock day.

“We have done this since the beginning of the year,” Vidalia coach Mike Norris said. “As much as I want to teach them baseball, it’s fun to have them compete against each other. We’ve done crazy shorts and shirts, too. We all wore different Hawaiian shirts.

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“It works. It gets the guys to where they can just have fun with each other.”

Along with the crazy attire, Wednesday practices are devoted to a game called “21 outs.” Players are split into two teams and battle at the plate to gain hits — the more hits, the better, because the first team to register 21 outs wins.

Norris admitted he has seen how much the small bit of excitement has helped his team. The Vikings advanced to meet No. 1 Kinder after winning Games 1 and 3 of their second-round series with No. 8 Vinton last weekend.

“We have been competing all year,” Norris said. “That’s really what has been carrying us. If we get down by three or four runs, it’s nothing to us.”

Wednesday’s winner of the crazy sock competition, freshman Xander Harveston, agreed he thinks the fresh spin on practice gives the Vikings an extra boost.

“It helps with our excitement, and it keeps us loose,” he said.

Despite the light-hearted nature at practice, when it comes time for the Vikings to head down to Kinder, La., on Friday, it will be all business from then on.

Norris said with confidence drilled in, he thinks the Vikings can do anything.

“Not scared,” he said. “And I don’t think these guys are either. Any team out of the eight (remaining) could win it — any team can win it. Everyone else has to come out and throw the ball, catch the ball and hit the ball just like us.”

For junior Tony Tolliver, reaching the third round is a great honor.

“This is the first time in a long time it’s happened here,” he said. “One of our goals this year was to make it to Sulphur, (La.) and now we are just two wins away.”

Norris said in Friday night’s Game 1 of the series, he plans to throw standout junior Tristan Weatherly. By Game 2, freshman Peyton Fort will be ready to take the mound with the remainder of the bullpen waiting to help out.

“Everybody is there, and on the road especially, we want to win Game 1,” Norris said. “That’s what we want to do, so we are throwing our No. 1 first. But good thing for us is we can beat a lot of guys’ No. 1s.”

Overall, Norris said he is ready for his team to do its thing.

“At this point, I’m just standing there watching them,” he said. “I can’t say anything else at this point. I’m just going to try to stay calm and watch them compete.

Friday’s Game 1 at Kinder is set for a 6 p.m. first pitch. Game 2 will be noon Saturday, and Game 3, if necessary will follow at 3 p.m.