Vikings relying on youth after losing six seniors

Published 12:01 am Thursday, March 5, 2009

VIDALIA — After two games, the Vidalia High baseball team’s season is a wash at 2-2.

The Vikings even record is indicative of the clean slate they have as far as the roster is concerned.

“We lost six starters from last year’s team, and we’ve really got three guys coming in that have any experience,” Vidalia coach Johnny Hoffpauir said. “At any time we can start two to three freshmen in any given game. So yeah, we’re young, but more importantly, we’re inexperienced.”

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Jake DeWeese, a pitcher and first baseman, is the lone senior on the team. He’s one of the leading pitchers but has been having arm trouble so far this season.

Mason Ozburn, the Vikings No. 1 pitcher last season, is also back this year and will provide much of the leadership on the field and on the mound, followed by No. 2 pitcher, junior Seth Thompson.

“From that point on, there’s not much experience on our pitching staff,” Hoffpauir said. “Thompson doesn’t have a lot of varsity experience, and after that it’s all freshmen.

“That’s a big concern for us, especially early in the season. It’s tournament time, when we pitch a lot of games.”

The Vikings are also inexperienced at the plate, with only three guys returning who have played regularly through an entire season.

Hoffpauir said the entire lineup is a concern right now, with too many holes to be filled.

“We’re striking out way too much and not putting the ball in play,” he said. “We’ve got to correct that, and we’ve got to hit above-average high school pitching.”

The Vikings defeated Monterey 23-1 in their first game of the regular season before losing to Block and LaSalle in the Mangham Tournament. They defeated Jena 11-10 Tuesday.

Vidalia finished tied for first place in LHSAA District 3-3A last season, with an 18-5 record, before losing in the first round of the playoffs.

The Vikings will host two tournaments this season — the Vidalia Tourney March 12-14 and the Vidalia Invitational March 20-21.

They will take on Adams County Christian at 6 p.m. today before traveling to Alexandria for the Bolton Doubleheader Saturday.

“We’ve got to play games to get them experience, and we’re going to have to have patience with them,” Hoffpauir said. “We’re virtually using our JV team from last year, but in this district it’s kind of a toss up. There are six teams in our district, and anything can happen.”