Hoffpaiur, Morris lead field of area’s top players

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 8, 2001

It’s hard to argue with a .632 batting average and a 9-1 record with a 1.27 ERA.

That’s why Vidalia’s Jarret Hoffpauir has been named the All-Metro Player of the Year for the third-consecutive year.

The Southern Mississippi signee’s senior statistics were simply overwhemling, much the way he was to the opposition during a year in which he led the Vikings to a berth in the Louisiana 2A quarterfinals and a school-record tying record of 26-5.

The All-Metro honor is just one of a laundry list of awards the Viking picked up for his play as a senior. He was the District MVP, Louisiana 2A MVP and was one of four finalist for the Mr. Baseball award given out by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association. He was also the starting shortstop in the Louisiana All-Star Game.

&uot;You don’t replace players like Jarrett,&uot; Jarrett’s father and coach Johnny Lee Hoffpauir said. &uot;You just keep going and do the best you can.&uot;

One player the Vidalia head coach won’t have to replace is junior first baseman Brian Bennett.

Bennett was a 2A All-State selection this year at Vidalia after hitting .476 with seven home runs.

The other infielders on the All-Metro team are Ben Eidt of Cathedral, Wes Middleton of Trinity and A.J. Smith of Monterey.

Eidt batted .429 for the Green Wave, who narrowly missed a spot in the Mississippi playoffs after dropping its final two games in the district.

&uot;Ben is a leader, and he was our most consistant player all year,&uot; Cathedral head coach Ken Beesley said.

Middleton (.351 batting avg.) played the hot corner for coach David Kind at Trinity, and his coach said he was the Saints’ leader during his senior year. &uot;Wes is a natural leader,&uot; King said. &uot;He always worked to improve, and his defense got better every year he played.&uot;

Smith was an honorable mention All-State selection at Monterey during his sophomore year, batting .443 as the Wolves made it to the state quarterfinals.

Brock Barlow of Natchez High School narrowly edged out Huntington’s Toby Wilson as the All-Metro catcher in one of the tightest votes for a position.

Barlow was named All District and batted .337 on the year, but it was his defensive work behind the dish that earned him top honors.

His teammate at NHS, Calvin Jackson, is the All-Metro utility player. He batted .406 and regularly played third base, short and the outfield for Natchez coach Michael Lindsey as the Bulldogs qualified for the 5A state playoffs.

The two pitchers on the All-Metro team are Huntington’s Barrett Kiser and Monterey junior Phillip Bryan.

Kiser teamed with Trey Mason to form a potent one-two punch on the mound for the Hounds, who finished one win short of playing for the MPSA 1A state championship series.

Kiser was 9-2 on the year with one save, and he had an impressive 2.11 ERA.

Bryan, just a sophomore at Monterey, was a first-team All-State selection with a 7-3 record. In four district games, he allowed only two earned runs.

The outfield is one of the strongest areas of the All-Metro team, with Lee Watts of ACCS, Carl Hayes of Natchez and Toby Wilson of Huntington providing great defense and hitting.

Wilson transfered to Huntington from Block High School in Jonesville, La., and he made an immediate impact as the Hounds reached the state semifinals.

&uot;In the 10 years I’ve been at Huntington I have never seen a better centerfielder,&uot; Huntington coach Mitch Ashmore said. &uot;He just has the ability to make the tough play look routine.&uot;

Watts batted .370 for the MPSA 3A state runnerups, and Carl Hayes showed great speed in the outfield and batted .408 for the Bulldogs.

The final sot on the All-Metro team went to ACCS designated hitter Te Riley, who finished the year with a .388 batting average.

The All-Metro Coach of the Year was won by Gill Morris of ACCS, who led the Rebels to the state finals in his first year at the school.