Notebook: Vikings, Green Wave face tough opponents in playoffs today

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 31, 2004

The way it’s been the last couple of years, no trip through the MHSAA Class 1A playoff would be complete without meeting up with Mize.

That’s been Cathedral’s history each of the past two seasons with the Bulldogs, losing in three games last year and taking the series in two games in 2002. The two teams will meet again today in the first of a best-of-three series Mize as the two teams are slated to butt heads again.

Today’s game will start at 6 p.m. with Game 2 Tuesday at Chester Willis and Game 3 Thursday at Mize if necessary.

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&uot;Two years ago we beat them, and I had a feeling they probably had the better team,&uot; Cathedral head coach Craig Beesley said. &uot;We got a lot of breaks that year, and last year they got a lot of breaks. Hopefully we’ll get some breaks over there early in the game and put some pressure on them. That first game is a big game.&uot;

It’s tough on both sides, and the matchup may be one of the bigger ones this week with several coaches predicting South State could come down to Mize, Cathedral or Edinburg. The biggest factor today for the Green Wave may be at the plate since Mize returns curveball specialist Josh Melton on the mound this year.

Melton threw a ton of breaking pitches at Cathedral in the opener last year before exiting early and handcuffing the Green Wave in Game 2. The Bulldogs could also go with Zach Jennings, although he’s not the offspeed pitcher of Melton.

&uot;He’s the one that gave us real trouble last year,&uot; Beesley said. &uot;I’m sure he’ll start (tonight). Hopefully we’ll go in there with good concentration and hit the ball well. He’s kind of a three-quarters guy &045; not overhand and not sidearm. He’s going to throw that outside curve to those right-handed hitters. If you try to turn on it, it’s hard to hit.&uot;

The Green Wave will counter with Corey Walker on the mound today, and it’s up to the hard-throwing right-hander to keep Mize quiet at the plate in this important contest. Beesley said he’ll likely use Garrett Jones in relief today if need be and come with left-hander Te Riley in Game 2 Tuesday.

If the Bulldogs are anything like their clubs of the past, they’ll hit the ball as well. Jasper Adcock returns in the lineup.

&uot;He’s hit some home runs for them,&uot; Beesley said. &uot;I’m sure he’s probably in the middle of the lineup, and he was a good hitter last year. I know they graduated three off last year. Other than that, they’re pretty much the same team from last year. They play well on their field. They’re a different team when they play over there.&uot;

VIDALIA ON ROAD &045; The Vidalia Vikings hit the road for a playoff game for the first time in three seasons as they travel to Sacred Heart of Ville Platte for a second-round playoff contest at 4:30 p.m.

It’s a good draw for the Vikings in the bracket &045; away from powerhouses like Christian Life, Episcopal, Pope John Paul, Loyola and Kinder &045; outside of the second-round matchup with Sacred Heart.

But this year is different. No one is tagging anyone as a clear-cut favorite.

&uot;This year there’s so many teams that can win this thing,&uot; Vidalia head coach Johnny Lee Hoffpauir said. &uot;It’s up in the air.

It’s going to be a battle. Anybody can win it. It’s going to come down to who’s hot right now.&uot;

Judging by their most recent outing, the Vikings are generating enough heat at the plate to make a run. Buoyed by a three-homer day from Brett Hinson, the Vikings took a wild 11-9 win to open the playoffs against Lakeside.

Today’s contest, meanwhile, may be totally different. Two years ago Sacred Heart came to Vidalia, and the Vikings needed to fight for a one-run win.

&uot;I know they’ve got pretty good pitching, and they’ve got a left-hander in there somewhere,&uot; Hoffpauir said. &uot;I don’t know if he’ll throw (today) or not. They’ve got a shortstop who is one of the top players in Louisiana. They’ve got a good baseball history &045; they won some state championships in 1A back in the 1990s. It’s tough to go down in that area and play. They play good baseball, and they’ll have a ton of fans.&uot;

A win would put them a game away from making a third straight trip to the state tournament, scheduled this year at ULM.

&uot;Class 2A is pretty stacked,&uot; centerfielder Jeffery Anderson said. &uot;Any time you go in the playoffs, it’s a tough road no matter how you look at it. But we’ve been here before.&uot;

MAC BATTLES &045; There may be no clear-cut No. 1 pitcher for the Vikings, with both Hinson and Mac Ware displaying top-starter potential. But Ware got the opening nod on Thursday, and he battled despite getting in a jam in the first inning against Lakeside.

The Warriors tagged him for three runs, but Ware settled down after that and battled. The defense behind him didn’t support him, leading to two unearned runs, and Ware left with two outs in the sixth after the Warriors cut the lead to 7-6.

&uot;He told us in the first inning he didn’t feel right,&uot; Hoffpauir said. &uot;He didn’t have control of his curveball. We didn’t do a good job behind him, which makes him throw more pitches.&uot;

Hinson will get the call today against Sacred Heart. The junior had battled a sore shoulder earlier in the year, but he said on Thursday he’s been virtually pain free since the Vikings’ loss at Cathedral April 16.

&uot;Hopefully we’ll play a little better defense, get some decent pitching and keep the bats going,&uot; Hoffpauir said.