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Brittney Lohmiller | The Natchez Democrat — Vidalia High School junior William Handjis winds up in the fourth inning against Caldwell Parish. Handjis pitched all seven innings against Caldwell and only gave up one hit.
Brittney Lohmiller | The Natchez Democrat — Vidalia High School junior William Handjis winds up in the fourth inning against Caldwell Parish. Handjis pitched all seven innings against Caldwell and only gave up one hit.

Vidalia’s Handjis leads on and off the diamond

Published 12:02am Sunday, April 20, 2014

VIDALIA — When the game is on the line, William Handjis demands the ball.

On April 16, every game remaining in Vidalia’s baseball season had must-win implications with the Vikings vying for a playoff slot.

Knowing this and knowing the history of Vidalia’s struggles against Caldwell Parish in recent years, Handjis asked Vidalia head coach Kale Davis if he could pitch against the Spartans two weeks before their April 16th matchup.

“I feel like I can win any game when they put me on the mound,” Handjis said. “We haven’t beaten this team in four years. I wanted to end that streak.”

Handjis allowed only one hit through seven innings as Vidalia beat Caldwell Parish 5-0 April 16.

As of today, the Vikings are 3-3 with Handjis on the mound, and he has two saves to his credit to go along with that record.

“His record is a little bit skewed,” Davis said. “He’s faced the big boys this year, and he’s done an awesome job.”

With four games left this season, the Vikings will need a healthy dose of Handjis for a playoff berth.

Handjis wouldn’t describe his pitching game as flashy. He battles batters, throws strikes and produces grounders and popups for his defense to retire the side. He’s proud of the way he’s developed as a pitcher, gaining more control of his pitches and walking fewer batters than he did a year ago.

But though baseball is important to Handjis, he’s focusing what free time he has on helping others through a Vidalia First Baptist Church teenage ministry called “Life Hurts, God Heals.”

Handjis went through the program over the summer, attending every session after meeting with the youth group Wednesday nights, and after completing it, he decided to become a leader in the group to help others.

“I get to lead kids through the journey of what I went through,” Handjis said. “It’s basically saying we all have problems, but God can heal it. It just gives us the steps that we need to take for healing.”

Dusty Carson, Vidalia First Baptist’s youth minister, said Handjis has always been honest about his struggles, dreams and goals, and Handjis has made an impact through “Life Hurts, God Heals.”

“He is a person that betters others,” Carson said.

Davis said Handjis has been a natural leader for his team all season long, and Handjis uses his values to lead by example.

“William is a God-fearing, God-loving kid,” Davis said. “If you had nine of him, it would be a perfect game.”

Handjis has been near perfect at shortstop, going through the entire season without making an error.

Whether Vidalia is winning or losing, the hustle from Handjis remains the same.

“I always try my best no matter what the score is,” Handjis said. “That’s the way I was taught to play.”

Hustle and respect go hand-in-hand for Handjis. He offers good sportsmanship to his opponents, and he expects it in return.

So when a Caldwell player tossed an obscenity toward Handjis following his stellar performance, he made sure he confronted that player.

“I got a little fired up,” Handjis said. “I just told him, ‘hey man, there’s no need for all of that.’”

Handjis and his teammates will battle for a playoff spot at home against Buckeye Monday and against Avoyelles on Tuesday before traveling to Avoyelles Thursday.

The games will ultimately decide the Vikings’ postseason plans, but win or lose, Handjis’ plans will remain the same — helping others through First Baptist Church’s ministries.