Vidalia summer league improves area players

Published 7:03 pm Friday, June 25, 2021

NATCHEZ — Natchez High School players practiced on a sunbaked Chester Willis Field Wednesday for a summer league held in Vidalia. Teams from Vidalia, Cathedral, Natchez Monterey and Concordia Parish play in the league.

Koren Harris is in his third year of playing summer baseball. The league has taught him a few things. He said he learned how to judge the ball in the air. He has learned how to not rush fielding or throws and to listen to his coaches.

Practices are held in the middle of the day as a lot of the players have football practice. Harris said he would be playing football or running track if he did not have the summer league. The heat does not bother him, he said.

“It feels great. You just don’t whine about anything. You just play your role,” Harris said. “I have played baseball since I was eight or nine. I stopped at the age of 13. I came back after watching other baseball players play. I started thinking in my head ‘I want to come back and play’. I started asking my mom if I could start playing again, and here I am now.”

Playing left, right and center field has been his role with the Bulldogs, but he is learning to pitch as a new role. Coach Edward Brown told him to take a baseball home and practice finding his 2-seam fastball, 4-seam fastball and curveball grip without looking at the ball.

Harris was working on his pickoff move Wednesday afternoon. He said he has to use his legs and keep his balance more on the mound than in any other position. Baseball practice is his second practice of the day, but he has a mentality of working hard.

Tyler Lyles said the Vidalia Summer League has helped him improve and get better at baseball. This year is his first year playing in the summer league and his freshman year of high school was his first year to play baseball.

Last season, he said he did not play because of COVID, but he should return to baseball for his junior year. He plays as a pitcher and infielder in the summer league. Lyles is also a football player at Natchez High.

“I also play football. It’s a lot of hard work, but if you want to do it, you have to do it,” Lyles said. “I love baseball for the love of the game.”