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Love is in the air: Vidalia 16U team falls in regional title game with heavy hearts

Leigh Anne Mason wouldn’t let her players leave the field Wednesday night until she wrapped her arms around each one.

Even as the Vidalia Little League Softball 16U all-stars watched their chances at returning to Delaware for the Senior League World Series fade away, it wasn’t hard to feel the love floating through the air.

“Six of these girls have played with me since they were 11,” Mason, an assistant coach, said. “And most of them have been playing together for the past few years.

“I got really attached, and it’s sad to say that it’s over.”

Vidalia fell to Texas West, 14-2, surrendering the Southwest Regional title after winning the tournament last year on its home field.

Vidalia held Texas West to no runs in the first inning, but its opponent scored at least one in the following five innings to seal the win in six.

“We really shot ourselves in the foot,” head coach Tate Lipscomb said. “We had opportunities with runners on base. Then, we got off the bag and made errors or just made silly plays.

“We dug ourselves too big of a hole and when you do it against a team like that you’re not coming out. You have to be flawless.”

Vidalia got on base with a lead-off walk in three of the six innings in the loss — the second, fourth and fifth — but Lipscomb said poor baserunning also hurt his team.

“It’s like we were getting the momentum and we couldn’t get it together,” he said.

On the bright side, Vidalia was the first team Texas West has faced in their district, state or regional tournament to score a run.

Latierra Lee scored on a double from Makenna Patt, while Geri Brumfield batted in Patt on back-to-back hits in the fourth inning.

Lipscomb said, however, it was too little too late.

“We were the only team to score on them. I have to give them that,” he said. “It felt great, but that inning made me mad. We only scored two runs when we could have had four.”

Though the team will graduate the majority of its players, Mason said she wants to remember the good times, including with her daughter Shelby Mason.

“We’ve done so much together,” she said. “This is what softball is to me. These were some of my best memories. I want them to have those memories, too.

“There’s no more all-stars, but it means so much to me to have seen them develop. I feel like I raised them — grew up with them.”

Also in the loss, Shelby Mason recorded a single and Alyssa Howard had a double.

Lipscomb said, too, this is likely the last time he will coach this team.

But, that won’t ever weaken the love.

“I’m very proud of them,” he said. “They never quit and did their best. Yeah, we made some mental mistakes but I am really proud of them.

“It’s tough. I’m going to miss them.”

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