Vikings face familiar opponent in first round

Published 3:43 am Thursday, April 29, 2010

VIDALIA — The Vidalia baseball team will face a familiar foe in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs Saturday.

And the Vikings (15-9) are hoping they can conjure up the same magic they had against this foe last season in the first round.

The No. 28 seed Vidalia travels to Lake Charles Saturday to take on the No. 5 seed Iowa. It marks the third year in a row the Vikings will face Iowa in the opening round of the postseason.

“It just so happened that the draw was them again this year,” Vidalia head coach Johnny Lee Hoffpauir said.

“Two years ago they beat us up pretty badly. Last year we got up there and probably pulled off the upset of the playoffs, so we know they’re not going to overlook us. They’re going to be ready to play, and the kids will have to be up for the challenge.”

Hoffpauir said the reason they’re ranked so highly in the seeding was because they have so many team strengths.

“First of all, they have a good tradition,” Hoffpauir said. “They won state three years ago, and the tradition is one thing that keeps team going. They’re also a well-coached team, and they do all the little things well.

“They have above-average pitching, play good, routine defense and they’ve got team speed. You really have to play well to give yourself a chance against them.”

And the speed aspect of their play is something the entire team will have to help minimize, Hoffpauir said.

“It’s not just the catcher, it’s also the pitcher that has to keep the runners in check. I told my team today, the best way to minimize their speed is to keep them off base. You have to make routines plays. You can’t give them opportunities, and you can’t miss a chance to get an out, because when they get on, they put pressure on you.”

If the Vikings want to pull off the upset again, Hoffpauir said his players would have to have a better showing than they did the final two games of the regular season. The Vikings were primed to win their district before dropping two games on the road, which resulted in Bolton being district champions.

“That was a real disappointment for us,” Hoffpauir said. “We were right in the position we wanted to be in. We had our destiny in our own hands, came out for two road games and played very flat.

“We made comeback runs in both games, but I’ve said all year, we can’t continue to do that and expect to win. I told them we need to take advantage of opportunities early, and we did do that these last two games.

“We lost district. It’s not that Bolton won, we just lost it. We know we have to pick up the pace, or we have no chance in the playoffs.”

Getting the start for Vidalia is Seth Thompson, and Hoffpauir said senior Mason Ozburn would be available out of the bullpen.

“Thompson’s 9-2 on the year, and he’s a consistent pitcher who throws strikes,” Hoffpauir said. “Mason’s not 100 percent recovered from his (leg) injury, but he’ll be ready in relief.”