Vikings hit the road in baseball playoffs

Published 12:04 am Thursday, April 30, 2009

VIDALIA — It’s going to be déj vu all over again for the Vidalia baseball team.

The Vikings travel to play Iowa in the bi-district round of the LHSAA Class 3A playoffs today.

Iowa and Vidalia met up last season in the first round, when the Vikings fell 17-7 to the then-defending state champions thanks to a nine-run second inning by the Yellow Jackets.

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Now the two teams will face off in the same round at the same place a year later.

“They lost three starters from their state semifinalist team from last year,” Vidalia coach Johnny Lee Hoffpauir said. “They’re the district champions out of District 4-3A, and they were the ninth seed in our system. We were the 24th seed.”

Hoffpauir said the Yellow Jackets returned every pitcher in their staff, which will be a tough test for the Vikings, who took second place in District 3-3A.

“We saw one of their pitchers last year,” he said. “They’ve got a good staff; it’s solid. There are no pitchers that are just going to blow it by you, but they’re all good.”

Mason Ozburn will take the mound for the Vikings. He took the loss in the teams’ meeting last year.

Hoffpauir has been a vocal critic of the LHSAA’s seeding system, which is based on votes by the 32 coaches whose teams make the playoffs.

Each coach has to rank all 32 teams, many of which they’ve never seen play.

“It’s kind of ironic that this is the second year in a row we’re playing (Iowa),” he said. “But that’s the cards we’re dealt so we’ll take them and just see what happens.”

The tournament is a one-loss setup.

Ben Parnham will be out for the Vikings after suffering a high ankle sprain in the second to last game of the regular season.

“Parnham is doubtful,” Hoffpauir said. “This is a tough job. Hopefully we’ll play well. There will be no excuses from us.”