Prep notebook: Vidalia sails through tough week to stay hot

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 7, 2003

Like the smartest student in class, Vidalia’s Vikings sailed through what was their biggest test of the year so far.

The Vikings (20-0) finished off a tough week of pre-district action Saturday with an 8-2 win over St. Frederick’s, a team they’ll likely see again deep in the playoffs if both teams get that far.

But by all indications so far, you might want to go ahead and pencil the Vikings in.

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&uot;Our seniors are providing great leadership out there,&uot; VHS head coach Johnny Lee Hoffpauir said after a 15-2 win over Cathedral Wednesday. &uot;I like this team. They’re really hard workers, and they’ve handled their success really well. It hasn’t gone to their heads. In high school athletics, you don’t see that very often.

&uot;Right now we’re getting good pitching, starting to hit the ball like Vidalia teams of old and our defense is coming around. It’s a credit to the kids. They believe in themselves.&uot;

Much of the reason for the success of late has been the hitting. After struggling at times early in the season and relying on solid pitching to win, the Vikings scored 67 runs in four games before taking the win over St. Fred’s with eight runs.

A big reason is the bottom of the lineup. Reid Simpson and Chris Ensminger came up with big hits to score runs and keep up with the top of the lineup with Trey White and Mac Ware providing the spark.

&uot;They have really come along,&uot; Hoffpauir said. &uot;Chris has really come along, and he’s a solid little defensive player. He has great presence on the field. We’re getting that from our sophomores &045; Reid, Brett Hinson and Chris. They’re better hitters with two strikes, and that’s the sign of a good hitter.&uot;

This week starts the games that really count for the Vikings as they travel to Rayville Thursday for the District 3-2A opener. They host Monterey at 6 p.m. today before they play Rayville and Crowville twice the end of the regular season April 24.

&uot;I’m just happy right now,&uot; catcher Chris Williams said. &uot;Everybody is happy. We’ve had a lot of people step up. People don’t think we’ll go as far as we did last year. We’re like a big family.&uot;

TRYING TIMES &045; The Trinity Episcopal Saints are still trying to get it together for the stretch run like they did last year.

But this time head coach Jeremy Loy is at the helm for the first time in place of David King, who coaches just about everything else at the school. The Saints have taken their lumps but are still improving.

&uot;It’s a tough thing every year with such a long basketball season,&uot; Loy said. &uot;But I have a lot of faith that the guys will pick up the intensity the last half of the season. With the success in football and basketball, baseball has been put in that third-sport slot. But we’ve got guys out there that want to change that.&uot;

The season has been a returns home of sorts for Loy, who played football and baseball before graduating from Trinity in 1996. King was an assistant at the time, and Loy went to Co-Lin and earned a degree from Mississippi State in 2000.

&uot;We kept in touch, and I followed Trinity while I was in college,&uot; Loy said. &uot;Last year he asked me to be an assistant in baseball, and I fell in love with the kids out there. He knew I wanted to get my foot in the door as a coach, and this is a great opportunity.&uot;

SHAKE IT UP &045; Cathedral’s lineup has a different look to it, and maybe that’s part of the reason why the Green Wave piled on the wins Friday and Saturday.

Michael Blain hit leadoff, and Chris Norris moved from leadoff to the No. 5 spot. Rodney Daggett his in the No. 9 hole in the 12-0 win over St. Joe of Greenville.

&uot;We moved (Blain) up Friday night,&uot; Cathedral head coach Craig Beesley said. &uot;We completely changed the lineup and kind of shook it up. You never know how they’re going to respond, but they’ve responded well.&uot;

Sports writer Chuck Corder contributed to this report.