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|Vidalia looks to regain district top spot|
Last year, Vidalia High's baseball team had its district championship streak of 15 straight snapped, finishing second to Bunkie in District 3-3A.
"It was actually a good second place because we had to battle from behind," said Vidalia coach Johnny Lee Hoffpauir. "The season could have gotten away from us, but it was a fun race. We just couldn't get any consistent pitching early. And we had to play ourselves into baseball shape."
If Hoffpauir wants to end that streak, he will have to do so early without two-time Parish Player of the Year Mason Ozburn.
Ozburn, a senior, broke his foot in a pick-up basketball game earlier this month.
"It's tough when you lose your No. 1 pitcher and anchor in your infield," Hoffpauir said. "But we can't throw the season away because of it. I feel bad for Mason and I know he is disappointed. But other guys are going to have to step up."
Ozburn finished 8-6 on the mound for the Vikings and had a 3.91 earned run average. He had 92 strikeouts over 58 innings. Ozsburn also hit .311 on the season and had four home runs to earn the 2009 Player of the Year Award, one year after winning the 2008 Player of the Year Award.
Vidalia won its final four district games to finish second and then upset Iowa, 8-7, in the first round of the playoffs before falling to E.D. White.
"The Iowa win was one of the top three for me," said Hoffpauir, who rejuvenated the Vidalia baseball program in 1979. "That was what Vidalia baseball is all about."
Senior Seth Thompson is now Vidalia's top pitcher, along with seniors B.J. Neeley and Trey Lillie.
"Seth has good stuff," Hoffpauir said. "It just means our second-line pitchers are inexpereinced."
Sophomores Jamale Davis, Corey Williams and Tucker Bruce will also see time on the mound.
Sophomore Matt Souderes will be behind the plate, along with junior Heath White, an ACCS transer and senior Seth Barlow.
Seniors John Brixey and Ben Parnham will rotate first base and designated hitter.
Brixey batted .289 and had three homers, including two in the postseason.
Lillie and Thompson will handle the middle infield, along with White and Bruce at second base
"We're just going to roll the dice," Hoffpauir said.
Neeley, White and Williams will be at third base.
The outfield returns junior Caleb Vines in center field. Davis, Nathan Bozeman, Barlow and senior Dalton Slade will also see time in the outfield.
"I feel real good about our outfield," Hoffpauir said.
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