Vikings in good playoff position

Published 2:22 am Thursday, April 8, 2010

VIDALIA — At the halfway point in the district season, the Vidalia Vikings find themselves in a pretty good position.

But coach Johnny Lee Hoffpauir knows there is still a lot of work to do if the Vikings want to make the Class 3A playoffs.

“A lot is going to happen in the second half,” Hoffpauir said. “Any team in our district can beat the other team. It’s an even district.”

The Vikings are one game short of competing half of their district schedule, as they had one game postponed because of rain.

Vidalia has an 11-6 overall record and a 4-1 record in District 3-3A, tied for first place with Bolton.

The top two teams in each district make the playoffs automatically, with the rest of the 32-team field being filled in based on power points.

“We’re where we want to be,” Hoffpauir said. “We’ve won a couple of big games on the road, especially the game we won at Bolton.”

Vidalia has two key home district games this week, taking on Jena at 5 p.m. today and then hosting Buckeye at noon on Saturday.

Hoffpauir said the key to Vidalia hanging on to first place in the district will be how its pitching holds up.

Injured No. 1 starter Mason Ozburn is slowly being worked back into action as he recovers from a broken ankle.

“He’ll probably throw a couple of innings Saturday,” Hoffpauir said. “His ankle is not ready for full time. Hopefully, in a couple of weeks, as we go down the home stretch, he’ll be getting ready.”

In Ozburn’s absence, Hoffpauir said the pitching rotation consists of Seth Thompson and whoever else can get outs.

“When Thompson is on the mound, we know we’re going to get a steady outing,” Hoffpauir said. “On days he’s not on the mound, we’re not sure what we’re going to get.”

And Hoffpauir said he’s been filling in the pitching gaps on a game-by-game basis.

“These teams we’re playing, they have a pitching rotation,” Hoffpauir said. “Well, we don’t have a rotation. We’re limiting guys to innings pitched every game, so maybe they’ll have innings in the next game.

“The only guy we’ve had go over that is Thompson. Trey Lillie has given us some good innings in relief, but you can only ride those horses so far.”

But while Hoffpauir said the Vikings have been inconsistent with their play so far, one thing that is a constant is their effort.

“All I know is that they’re going to play hard,” Hoffpauir said. “That’s the one consistency we have. We’re going to keep battling, and hopefully hang in there until the end and give ourselves a chance.”