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Six Vikings named to All-District team, two overcame injuries

VIDALIA — For two out of three of Vidalia High School’s All-District first teamers, the honor was confirmation of a job well done after fighting through injuries.

The Vikings’ Jamale Davis, Devin Barnes and Nate Bozeman were all selected to the LHSAA District 3-3A first team, while Lane Strong, Corey Williams and Michael Nelson made the second-team squad.

Davis and Barnes both made the list despite sustaining injuries during the season. For Davis, an elbow injury prevented him from being able to pitch, and an eye injury for Barnes forced him to wear a mask the rest of the season.

Davis said it was a great feeling to make the All-District team, but with it being his senior year, the outfielder said he would have liked to go out pitching.

“It was something with my elbow that prevented me from being able to bend it,” Davis said. “It took a lot of the speed off my ball. I hurt it throwing a curveball when we were playing Peabody early in the season.”

Since he was healthy enough to patrol the outfield, Davis said he was grateful he was still able to play at least one position. But even that didn’t come without adjustments.

“I had to adjust the way I threw,” Davis said. “I usually throw overhand, and I had to throw a mix of overhand and sidearm.”

Even getting the ball back into the infield came with a little bit of pain, but Davis said he just had to deal with it.

“I don’t really worry about it,” Davis said. “I knew it’s going to hurt some, but I knew my team needed me, so I just got over it and threw it.”

Davis finished the season batting .405 with 34 runs scored, 32 hits, eight RBIs, three doubles, two triples and 24 stolen bases.

Barnes fought through a left eye injury after a foul ball bounced off his bat and hit him in the eye midway through the season. He was sidelined for two games before returning with a mask, which he’s worn every game since.

“It broke my nose and my orbital bone,” Barnes said. “I wore an eye patch for two days, but after that I was fine.”

Physically, anyway. Mentally, though, Barnes admitted every at-bat from that point on was a battle.

“Every time I get up to bat, I always think about how I don’t want to foul off a bat and get hit in the eye again, so now I wear a mask,” Barnes said.

The eye didn’t seem to affect Barnes’ hitting, though. He went 7-for-10 in a three-game series upon his return from the injury.

“My first at-bat, I had a sac bunt,” Barnes said. “My second at-bat I hit a home run to dead center field. My third at-bat, I had a double.”

Barnes finished the season batting .338 with 20 runs scored, 23 hits, 13 RBIs and two home runs. He signed with Arkansas Baptist College to play first base, and Barnes said it felt like a blessing to be able to play at the next level. Barnes is currently playing summer ball.

“It’s been a goal of mine that I’ve always wanted,” Barnes said of playing college baseball. “They offered me after my season was over, and it was the best feeling, knowing they offered me despite my injury.”

Bozeman had a .423 batting average, 33 runs scored, 30 hits, six RBIs, four doubles, one triple, one home run and 20 stolen bases. He was unavailable for comment.

Corey Williams had a 4.12 ERA, but opponents only hit .131 against him. Offensively, he finished with a .312 batting average, 22 runs scored and 13 RBIs. Strong had a .283 batting average, 13 runs scored, 15 hits, five RBIs and two doubles.