Calming the nerves: Vidalia 16U softball team awaits chance to repeat regional title

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 20, 2018

Tate Lipscomb is confident, but that doesn’t mean he’s not worried.

Lipscomb will lead the Vidalia Little League Softball 16U all-stars starting Saturday at their regional tournament hosted in Vidalia.

As the host team, Vidalia received an automatic bid.

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“We haven’t played yet, and that’s what scares me,” Lipscomb said. “I’m very nervous.”

Luckily to calm his nerves, Lipscomb has experience on his side. Of last year’s regional championship team, Vidalia returns all but four new players.

“The good thing is I think they are mentally ready,” Lipscomb said. “They have their mind on it. They’ve been to Delaware (for the World Series) and they are ready to get back there and make a statement.”

Shelbi Cross, who drove in the winning run during last year’s regional title game, agrees her team has a tight bond.

“We have a really good team chemistry,” she said. “Most of us have played together for a really long time.”

Out of seven teams at this year’s Southwest Regional, only the winning team will advance to the World Series. This is the seventh year Vidalia has hosted and Lipscomb knows it’s not going to be easy.

“It was so nerve-wracking last year,” he said. “We won (the championship) in the top of the seventh inning. We ended up striking out the last batter when they had runners on second and third.

“I feel like if I wasn’t nervous, it would be weird. I always get nervous before a ball game because I want to make sure I’ve coached them well enough to do what they are capable of doing.”

Vidalia’s journey to repeat its title will begin with possibly their toughest matchup when it play Texas West at 8 p.m. Saturday night.

“They walked through their state tournament and didn’t give up any runs,” Lipscomb said. “It took them just three games.”

As soon as his team takes the field, Lipscomb said he’s eager to see how the tournament plays out. Until then, he’ll have to deal with his nerves the best way he knows how — confidence.

“Once I get to that point it’s out of my hands and I have no control,” he said. “But, I trust them a lot. Once those lights come on, they know it’s business. We just have to take one game at a time.”