Vidalia High senior Nick Melton has a little bit of a twist on a famous saying.
“The grass is always greener on the baseball field.”
Melton certainly knows his way around the baseball field, batting .394 this past season and scoring a team high 25 runs. He was also hit by six pitches. He also had a team-high eight stolen bases.
Helping Vidalia reach the playoffs for the third straight season, Melton earned All-Parish Player of the Year honors.
Melton goes onto the baseball field with one mindset.
“I don’t ever want to leave anything on the field,” Melton said.
Melton and the Vikings rarely did. Rosepine ended Vidaila’s season in a slugfest last month as the Eagles defeated the Vikings 12-9 at Vidalia in a Class 2A first round contest.
Vidalia finished its season at 15-11.
Melton played shortstop and pitched for the Vikings.
When top pitcher Peyton Fort went down with an ACL injury, Melton knew it was time to step up even more.
“I do like playing shortstop because you get a lot of action,” said Melton, who had a fielding percentage of .846.
Melton was 1-1 on the mound and had a 4.15 earned run average.
“I knew I had to become a better pitcher when Peyton went down,” Melton said. “I tried to feed off that motivation.”
Melton plans on attending Copiah-Lincoln Community College and playing baseball.
He also plans on using the same type of motivation of leaving it all on the field at the next level.
“I’m going to approach it the way I approach everything,” he said. “And i don’t regret it.”
The Vikings were coming off a year that saw them win District 2-2A before falling to Kinder 2-0 in the state quarterfinals. Kinder won State this year.
Viking head coach Mike Norris took over a flouncing Viking baseball program in 2017.
“I give credit to the kids,” Norris said. “They are the ones who go out and perform. These days they could be doing who knows what, but they choose to come and work during practice. And a shout out to my assistant coaches (Jake Brumfield and Nicholass Kennedy) and the school staff and administration.”
Vidalia has since been to the playoffs three straight years, playing host to a postseason contest each year.
“Coach Norris has a lot to do with our success,” Melton said. “He came in and turned things around.
Norris, the 2019 All-Parish Coach of the Year, said his expectations for each year are always high.
But Vidalia’s expectations took a hit when Fort went down with an injury after five games.
“That was huge, but it just meant next man up,” Norris said. “As a coach you go home and cry for one night and then you get over it.”
Norris is not only looking to next season, but years after at Vidalia High.
“When I first got here I stressed doing the little things,” Norris said. “We went over how we walk in and out of the dugout, how we practice and how we act when we screw up. We want our players to compete to win, not just be part of the team. We stress the Viking way. It starts in the classroom and at home. How you perform on the field is a reflection of the type of person your are in class and at home. You have to know what it means to be a Viking before you get here.”
Norris will not be an assistant coach for the Vidalia football team this fall, which means he will be spending more time with baseball.
“We’re going to focus on baseball this summer,” he said. “We’re going to have camps and clinics, not only for the players, but for those who coach the younger kids. We did things this year we didn’t do the first two years. With (assistant coaches) Jake Brumfield and Nick Kennedy, we’re going to be doing a lot more.”
Other Vikings named to the All-Parish Team are senior Dominik Harveston, junior C.J. Chatman, senior Tristan Weatherly, senior Tony Tolliver, junior Dylan LaPrairie and sophomore Brett Walsworth.
Harveston batted .305, drawing 18 walks.
Chapman batted .449, cellecting a team high 31 hits. He had nine doubles.
LaPrairie batted .361, drawing nine walks.
Weatherly batted .358 , drawing 24 walks. while also striking out 144 batters while posting a 4-3 record.
Walsworth batted .508, driving in 18 runs and five doubles. He walked eight times and only struck out six times. He was hit by wo pitches.
Tolliver batted .344 and led the Vikings with 27 stolen bases.
Delta Charter is represented by junior Cole McGivaren, senior Freddie Mango, junior Landon Davis and junior Preston Higgins.
McGivaren led Delta Charter with a .390 batting average with 16 RBIs, seven doubles and one home run.
Mango batted .357 with one home run.
Davis batted .306 and had a 5.05 earned run average, leading the team with 41 strikeouts.
Higgins did not register a win or loss, but had a 1.03 earned run average and struck out 40 batters.
Representing Monterey are Cooper Roach and Jacob Spinks.
Spinks batted .383 and struck 55 batters over 32 innings, posting a 2.10 ERA.