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|Vidalia returning to Iowa|
If Iowa High School eliminates Vidalia High from the playoffs for the second straight year, Viking head coach Johnny Lee Hoffpauir at least wants them to earn it.
The two teams meets Thursday at 5 p.m. in Iowa.
Vidalia lost to Iowa 17-7 last year as the Yellowjackets scored nine runs in the second inning. Six Iowa hitters were hit by pitches, six walked and Vidalia committed five errors in the contest.
"I think we went in a little intimidated last year," Hoffpauir said. "The key is we have to get good pitching, be consistent. They have a really good team again."
Despite tying for the district championship last year, Vidalia was forced to play on the road.
The Vikings, seeded No. 24, finished second to Bunkie, one game behind the Panthers this season. Vidalia lost to Bunkie twice.
Junior Mason Ozburn will get the start for the Vikings.
"We're ready to use the whole staff," Hoffpauir said. "Mason has been pitching well down the stretch. We need to play solid defense behind him."
Bunkie, which is seeded No. 16, hosts No. 17 Redemptorist.
Iowa is seeded No. 9, beat Bunkie 10-3 earlier this season.
Iowa won District 4-3A with a 7-1 record, its only district loss coming to Iota.
Iowa coach Sean Richard, who was a second baseman on the Kinder High team which lost to Vidalia in the 1996 Class 2A state championship game, led his team to the 3A semifinals last year where they lost to St. Charles.
"I remember Coach Hoffpauir's son (Josh) was a pitcher on that team," Richard said. "Coach Hoffpauir is a real good guy and we go way back. They have a top-notch program and I know their fans love baseball. I don't expect this year to be like last year. Every game we've played has been competitive."
Richard has three pitchers he uses quite a bit. Senior Logan Chapman, his brother Tyler Chapman, who started against Vidalia as a freshman last year, and junior Madison Lachney.
"We use a lot of guys," Richard said. "It's always important for us to score some runs early and finish strong." I feel like we're playing well and the kids are looking forward to the playoffs."
The winner of Thursday's game faces the winner of the E.D. White-Amite contest.
Defending champion Parkview Baptist is seeded No. 1, while St. Charles is seeded No. 2 in the tournament.
Marksville (8-10 and 6-4 in district), which lost to Vidalia in a game for second place in the season finale, did not make the playoffs because they did not report their record or finish in the district to the association.
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