Rain pushes Vidalia-Block playoff tuneup back to Thursday

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 17, 2004

VIDALIA, La &045; Forty feet of emerald net, seemingly destined for the cumbersome, clumpy waters of Old Rivers, stretched loosely from one end of the Vidalia High gymnasium stage to the other Tuesday.

Head softball coach Gary Paul Parnham, shielded by a pitching screen, simulated batting practice by tossing rubber balls toward his hitters.

It’s that whole turning lemons into lemonade thing.

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Mother nature’s wrath Monday pushed the Lady Vikings indoors Tuesday, postponing their scheduled game at home against Block to at 4 p.m. Thursday in Jonesville.

&uot;We may not have the greatest facilities, but we make due with what we’ve got,&uot; said Parnham, noting rain typically leaves most schools, well, out in the rain to accommodate games and/or practices.

Parnham and Vidalia head baseball coach Johnny Lee Hoffpauir bought the net seven years ago for just such occasions.

The eighth-year head coach even has his club use the net during the offseason, closing the curtain so as to not disrupt basketball practices.

&uot;You can still get your cuts in in here, and we can still set up in our stations like on the field,&uot; Parnham said. &uot;The only thing it hurts is our defense. You can take some ground balls, but it’s not the same on the gym floor.&uot;

With legs dangling one after another off the front of the wooden stage, the Lady Vikings listened intently as their coach held court, informing that whether they liked it or not, they’d be practicing Friday, a day before Vidalia’s prom.

It’s not so much that the Lady Vikes (15-9-2, 3-1) need all the practice it can get, but with playoffs beginning next Tuesday, there’s no room for flatness.

These are the defending Class 2A champs. What squad wants to be remembered for getting booted out of Trump Tower onto Skid Row?

&uot;We’re the defending state champs until someone beats us in the playoffs,&uot; said Parnham.

&uot;I’m not telling you that we’ll win state, but we’re gonna give it a shot. That’s how we approach the playoffs: not cocky, but confident.&uot;

Less than a week away, there’s still some mystery concerning whom Vidalia might play in the first round.

It will certainly be a wild card teams from District 1-2A. After that, it gets a bit tricky since Springhill, Lakeside and Loyola are all currently tied for first in District 1, with the Lady Vidalia, who faced Jonesboro-Hodge in the opening round last year, has a postseason history with Lakeside.

&uot;This would make three of the last four years if it’s Lakeside&uot; that Vidalia hosted the lady Warriors in the first round, Parnham said. &uot;Me and that coach are getting to know each other well.&uot;

If the last statement is true, then Parnham and Crowville head coach Curt Curtis should be exchanging Christmas gifts as often as they see one another.

Parnham said he’d rather be in a district with four or five rather than two. He believes both the Lady Vikings and Crowville are at a disadvantage.

For now, Vidalia’s only focus is its Thursday’s showdown with Block and the postseason.

Frasch Park in Sulphur, La., eagerly awaits the state’s top teams, and until someone proves otherwise, the Lady Vikings believe a spot is meant for them.

&uot;I know we have the talent to get back where we were&uot; last year, junior pitcher Christy Corley said. &uot;We’re trying to tell all the people coming up, there’s nothing like that atmosphere. It’s one thing just to get to walk into the park in Sulphur, and then another to be on top.&uot;