Vikings set to host Vidalia Invitational today

Published 5:20 pm Thursday, March 15, 2007

After an exciting weekend of baseball in the Vidalia Baseball Classic, the Vidalia Vikings will welcome four more teams beginning today in the Vidalia Invitational.

The Vikings will take on Franklin Parish tonight at 5 — weather permitting — and Rayville and Minden will join the festivities Friday. Cathedral will play one game Saturday.

Unlike last week’s tournament, which featured eight teams and plenty of food, Vidalia head coach Johnny Lee Hoffpauir said the invitational would be business only.

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“We’re just going to get together and play a little baseball,” Hoffpauir said. “Everybody’s going to play three. We’re going to play four games since Cathedral’s coming in. We’re just hoping this bad weather gets out of here and we have good weather for it. We’ve had good crowds in the past.”

In past years, teams from Oklahoma and Arkansas have made the trip down for the tournament, but Oklahoma changed its spring break dates and the Arkansas team chose not to play.

Hoffpauir said each team coming to the tournament brings something interesting to the table.

“Rayville (a 3A school) came in here last year and won all three of their games,” he said. “They played real well and kind of got their season kickstarted. They’ve got the deepest pitching of the tournament. They’ve got two quality pitchers. Franklin Parish (a 4A school) comes in kind of rebuilding. They lost eight starters from last year and they’re still getting it together right now. This will give them a chance.

“Menden is making the trip from right around the Arkansas border. They’re a 4A school with a great baseball tradition. They always bring a great team in.”

Hoffpauir said his team would use the three days to continue working on its hitting.

“We need this because we need some at-bats,” he said. “We have to get our offense going. We’re hitting about .240 as a team. Right now our weak link is offensively. We’re not swinging the bat well, and we’re kind of known for (hitting) at Vidalia so it’s frustrating. We’re battling some injuries, we’re battling a couple other problems that we’ll work through. When all is said and done we’ll be ready to play.”

Hoffpauir said if today’s game is rained out Franklin Parish will take on Cathedral Saturday, rather than Vidalia.