Vidalia pitcher Ozburn recovering from injury

Published 1:27 am Monday, March 22, 2010

VIDALIA — As he hit the wall, Mason Ozburn knew it was different this time.

Ozburn was playing pickup basketball at his church when he went up for a layup. His friend came behind him to block, and the two crashed into the back wall. His friend was OK, but Ozburn wasn’t.

He had injured his ankle before, but it felt worse than those other times, he said. A trip to the doctor’s office would later confirm that his left ankle was broken, and Vidalia’s No. 1 starting pitcher would have surgery and be forced watch from the bench for most of the season.

“I was angry,” Ozburn said. “I knew what had happened even before it swelled up. I just sat there for 30 seconds, then finally looked at my leg. It looked like a softball was in it, it swelled up so quickly.”

And that anger was entirely because of baseball, he said, as the injury occurred right when the season was starting for the Vikings.

“That was the first thing that came to my mind. I was supposed to have a game that day, but it got cancelled. I’ve injured my ankle before, and it caused me to miss time, but the anger was all about baseball, because I knew I wouldn’t be able to play for a while.”

Vidalia coach Johnny Lee Hoffpauir said the injury was unfortunate, but doesn’t blame Ozburn for the freak accident.

“Kids will be kids,” Hoffpauir said. “You can’t put them in a bottle and watch them 24 hours a day.

“I feel terrible for Mason. He’s a great kid with wonderful parents. Having to miss most of his senior year, I understand how that is on him.”

Ozburn said it was very frustrating for him, even if it took a while for those feelings to sink in.

“At first, it didn’t really hit me, because we had so many rainouts, but now it’s pretty bad,” Ozburn said. “I can stand it when I’m in the dugout, but when I’m at home, I can’t stand to watch anything related to baseball on TV.”

Now, Ozburn said he’s awaiting a doctor’s visit in early April, where he’ll find out whether or not he’ll be cleared to begin preparing to return to the mound.

“Right now, I’m walking well and stuff, so hopefully she’ll clear me for physical therapy so I can get back on the mound,” he said.

Hoffpauir cautioned that he would be in no hurry to get Ozburn back on the mound, even if he was cleared.

“We know he’ll be back, the question is being back and being ready,” Hoffpauir said. “That’s a whole different story, so right now we’re just going the play the cards we’ve been dealt.”

Watching from the sidelines, Ozburn said he’s pleased how his team’s hitting has been able to carry the Vikings so far this year, especially since his injury left them short on pitching.

“Our team right now is doing excellent in hitting. The last four games, I think we’ve been averaging 12 runs per game. Even if I was back, we’d still be short on pitching, so hitting like this keeps us in the game constantly.”

Hoffpauir said he also hopes the hot hitting continues for his players.

“Hopefully we can keep swinging the bats, because that’s going to be key,” Hoffpauir said. “We may have to score 40 runs a game.”