Hoffpauir&8217;s Vikings show they&8217;re not afraid to roll dice

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 3, 2006

Never one to refrain from experimenting, Vidalia head coach Johnny Lee Hoffpauir sure looked like a genius Thursday.

The lineup sheet had Tony Godbold in right field on the road against St. Frederick. Keep in mind that Godbold has not played a position this season other than standing on the bump and trying to throw strikes. And the Warriors weren&8217;t the team coaches would like to gamble with.

This week, maybe, would be good when the Vikings get their two District 4-AA games with Lake Providence. Yet the lefty Godbold came up with huge play to throw out a baserunner at home in the fifth inning of the Vikings&8217; 8-7 win.

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&8220;It&8217;s late in the year, but we&8217;re still looking for the right combination,&8221; Hoffpauir said. &8220;We make one pitching change, and we have to make two or three defensive changes. It&8217;s not like we can bring a guy in from the bullpen and go from there. We&8217;re searching for the right combination, but we know the effort is there. The kids play hard, and that&8217;s really what we ask of them.&8221;

Godbold went to right Thursday with regular right fielder Shayne Knapp in to play second base and Trey Keith pitching and Beau Doughty in left field. But it&8217;s been like that all season with Doughty, Knapp and David Watts rotating spots in the outfield and Knapp spending time at third base on other occasions.

No big deal, though. And with a team that&8217;s starting to pick it up at the plate to go along with solid defense &8212; Godbold&8217;s assist is one of several the Vikings have had already this season at the plate &8212; things are coming together for the 14-3 Vikings.

They&8217;ll face Lake Providence twice this week before facing Oak Grove Saturday at home.

&8220;(That) was a big win &8212; one of the big wins of the season,&8221; Hoffpauir said of St. Fred, ranked eighth in Class 1A. &8220;We had a great practice the other day. We worked on a lot of little things &8212; a lot of bunting and situational stuff. They worked hard in practice, and it carried over.

&8220;What I&8217;m really proud of is the last three ball games the bottom of the order has really started contributing. Nick (Coley) has been swinging the bat well, and Beau Doughty has earned himself a starting spot. The bottom of the order is starting to help us.&8221;

ON HIS WAY BACK &8212; You can credit Adams Christian right-hander Corey Walker alone for getting out of a jam Saturday against Parklane. With the bases loaded and no outs, he got away with just one run allowed on a fielder&8217;s choice while getting two strikeouts to escape further harm.

But credit him for where he&8217;s been.

The hard-throwing senior has had shoulder problems this spring and hasn&8217;t pitched much. The Rebels have gone with Matt Barnes as the No. 2 starter and came with Brian Sanderson to start against the Pioneers Saturday.

Walker last pitched the previous Saturday when the Rebels hosted Centreville.

&8220;His arm is better,&8221; Adams head coach Ron Rushing said. &8220;It&8217;s a lot stronger than last year, and his curveball is a lot better. He had some soreness in the back of his shoulder, but he&8217;s getting there. He did a great job in a tough situation. He&8217;ll help us out toward the end of the year.&8221;

It could be this week when the Rebels play Central Hinds in a showdown of the top two teams in District 3-AA. The Cougars have a new coach this season and have lost only once in district &8212; a contest to Copiah early in the season &8212; while returning most of their players from last season.

The first game is in Natchez Tuesday with Thursday&8217;s game in Raymond.

&8220;They&8217;ve got a new coach, and he&8217;s done a good job with them,&8221; Rushing said. &8220;They&8217;ve improved a lot, and they&8217;ve beat some good teams. If we don&8217;t come ready to play, they&8217;ll beat us.&8221;

A TRUE STAFF &8212; Kolby Godfrey may be the No. 1 starter for Trinity Episcopal this spring, but the Saints have shown they may not have a defined No. 2 &8212; mainly because so many guys can do the job.

Stevan Ridley got the start Wednesday against Oak Forest and went four solid, but Matthew Freeman followed with two solid innings

before Godfrey got the game&8217;s final out. Godfrey got some innings in Saturday at Tensas, but Parker Brumfield and Freeman did as well.

Ridley may be the hardest thrower of the bunch. Outside of some trouble in the second, he battled against the Yellow Jackets and struck out four in four-plus innings before walking the leadoff batter in the fifth.

&8220;They picked up some hits off him early, but he worked hard and battled and kept us in the ball game,&8221; Trinity head coach Matt Mason said. &8220;That&8217;s what I asked him to do &8212; keep us in the ball game. He&8217;s a 70- to 80-pitch guy. If we can get five innings out of him, that&8217;s all we ask. Matthew came in and did a great job in relief and worked out of a jam.&8221;