Vikings can take big step toward title with win today

Published 2:50 am Monday, April 19, 2010

VIDALIA — The 2010 baseball season hasn’t exactly been great on Viking coach Johnny Lee Hoffpauir’s health.

But the veteran coach could get some welcome relief with a win over Bolton today in what amounts to a battle for first place in District 3-3A.

“It would be nice on my ulcer,” Hoffpauir said. “This has been an exciting district run. A little too exciting at times.”

Vidalia’s constant high-wire act this season has kept Hoffpauir — and Vidalia fans — on edge. The Vikings sit at 8-1 in district play, but four of those victories have been by a single run.

“All of those wins were comeback wins,” Hoffpauir said. “I don’t know if we can hold out doing that. But to win the games coming back like that says something about our kids.”

Vidalia (14-7) clinched at least a runner-up spot in the district and a playoff spot withi Saturday’s 11-7 victory over Marksville.

But the Vikings are shooting for a district championship, and today’s contest against Bolton will go a long way toward determining that champion.

Bolton has a 9-1 district record, having played one more game than Vidalia because of a rainout.

The Vikings defeated Bolton earlier this season on the road, and Hoffpauir would like to see a duplication of that success.

“It’s going to be tough,” Hoffpauir said. “It’s a pride thing for us right now. It’s something to shoot for.”

Even with a victory over the Bears today, a district championship is not assured.

The Vikings have a schedule crunch this week due to having to make up a rained out game, and must win at least one of its last two games — either Thursday at Bunkie or Friday at Buckeye — to clinch the title.

“We’ve got our backs to the wall because Bolton only has two games left to play while we have three,” Hoffpauir said. “We’ve got games (today), Thursday and Friday. That’s going to make it pretty tough.”

But adversity is nothing new to the Vikings. They have been facing it all year and haven’t backed down yet.

From the preseason injury of starting pitcher and shortstop Mason Ozburn to the numerous comebacks, Vidalia has overcome everything the season has thrown at it.

“That’s the one thing that has stayed consistent about the program. Our kids play hard,” Hoffpauir said. “They are going to get out there and compete. Our backs have been against the wall all year, and I’m really proud of the way the kids have responded throughout the season. It hasn’t always been pretty, but we’ll take it.”