Former Vidalia catcher’s team wins over Vikings

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 14, 2005

False River could have taken off and went back home Friday night at the Vidalia Tournament, and its head coach still would have been tickled.

The Gators and head coach Glen Donald &045; a former starting catcher for the Vikings &045; took a 10-2 win over their coach’s old team to open the tournament. They eventually dropped two games Saturday in the second day of the tournament to Franklin Parish and Cathedral.

But the former Viking got a win over his old coach in Johnny Lee Hoffpauir, someone he still looks up to.

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&uot;I’ve been wanting to do this for 10 years,&uot; said Donald, a 1997 VHS graduate in his first head coaching job with the New Roads-based Class 1A school. &uot;I always said I’d always come back. I’ve been talking it up all year. I told them about the state championship and how we want to get our program going like Johnny has established this program.&uot;

The Gators erupted for nine runs in the third inning in the four-inning contest Friday night. It caught everyone by storm after most folks hadn’t heard of False River Academy and knew nothing about the school other than the coach was a former Vidalia player.

The win was a big one for Donald’s young team, who probably became well-versed in stories from that state championship team back in 1996.

&uot;He wanted this one a lot,&uot; pitcher Steele Welch said. &uot;He’s been talking about this Vidalia tournament since the beginning of the year. He was very happy.&uot;

It was a big win for a young FRA team that has just one senior and four juniors. Welch was strong on the mound and keeping the Vidalia bats struggling, and he helped his cause by launching a home run in the fourth.

Hoffpauir has known Donald all of the young coach’s life and knew his club would be pumped up for the occasion. And the veteran coach admitted he watched the Gators warming up and knew they wouldn’t be a pushover.

&uot;I’ve been around this business long enough,&uot; Hoffpauir said. &uot;I can watch kids warm up and know. He had some good baseball athletes out there. I see Glen every once in a while. We’re staying in contact. He’s one of my favorites. I wish him well, but I didn’t wish him this well. But he’ll do well.&uot;

The first-year coach likes his talent level and his chances in the Class 1A ranks this season and next. Welch, he thinks, could be a college prospect by this time next season, and the Gators showed discipline at the plate by not swinging at bad pitching and making solid connection on good pitches.

Outside of a first inning when Jordan Brewer was in command for the Vikings, the Gators struck out just twice.

&uot;Hopefully I can stick around here and build the program the right way,&uot; Donald said. &uot;That’s what I love about our school &045; we have a ton of parental support. If we can play like this next year, we’ll be a force in 1A ball. I’m looking forward to it.&uot;

There’s always next year’s tournament for Donald, too. The Vikings will get back in action next week in the Vidalia Invitational, which could be another opportunity for the Gators to make the trip back up to Vidalia and play.

And if he does, the Vikings will be ready.

&uot;We’ll do it again one day,&uot; Hoffpauir said. &uot;You can put this in there &045; the old man ain’t quitting yet.&uot;

WHO’S ON FIRST &045; Cathedral’s Jeremy Davis hasn’t been his usual self lately.

With a strain in his quadriceps muscle, Davis has been forced to take things easy on the baseball field.

&uot;I strained a muscle in my quad, but I was feeling better,&uot; Davis said. &uot;Then against Monterey last week, I felt something tightening up and I said, ‘Coach, you better sit me out.’&uot;

Davis has still been playing for the Green Wave, but he hasn’t pitched or played in the outfield, his usual positions for the team. Instead, he’s been relegated to first base, where he’s unlikely to further aggravate the problem.

&uot;With the pulled quad, we can’t put him in the outfield, so we moved him to first,&uot; Cathedral head coach Craig Beesley said.

Davis said he’s not too uncomfortable at his temporary position, though it’s a big change from his usual outfield assignments for the Green Wave.

&uot;I’ve played there some. In little league, I played pretty much everywhere and I’ve played infield some here, so it’s not too foreign to me,&uot; Davis said.

Beesley said he hopes Davis will be able to pitch again this week.