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|Thompson, Hoffpauir lead all-parish|
When Mason Ozburn went down with a broken foot before the start of baseball season, Vidalia High senior Seth Thompson knew the biggest starts of the season would fall on him.
Thompson was up to the challenge
Thompson was the top hitter on the Viking team, hitting .458 with a .708 slugging percentage. He also batted in 31 runs.
"I was on my way back from out of town when I heard Mason broke his ankle," Thompson said. "I knew right then I was going to have to start working harder and step up for the team. It actually felt good knowing I was going to be counted on more."
Thompson finished as the team's top pitcher, posting a 9-4 mark and 2.49 earned run average. He had 41 strikeouts and nine walks.
"I had high expectations at the plate, but I did not expect to put up the numbers I did on the mound," Thompson said.
Vidalia High head baseball coach Johnny Lee Hoffpauir said losing his top returning player was a first.
"It seems like there's something new every year to worry about," Hoffpauir said. "Losing Mason early certainly hurt us, but you I told the players we weren't a one-man team and some other kids had to step up. And they did."
Another first for Hoffpauir was the number of last at-bat wins. Vidalia High won five games in their final at-bat this season and six by one run, all in district.
"That's a credit to these kids and the way they battled," Hoffpauir said.
Vidalia finished its season at 15-10, falling to Iowa 10-8 in the first round of the playoffs.
The Vikings were ranked No. 28 in the final poll. Vidalia beat district champion Bolton in both meetings, but losses to Buckeye and Bunkie in its last two games forced the Vikings to settle for second place.
"The district title doesn't mean much more than pride with the way the playoff system works," Hoffpauir said. "Losing those last two games hurt us more in the seeding."
Hoffpauir said this year's senior class was special.
"They've been through a lot with me and I'm really going to miss them," he said.
Hoffpauir is now 477-207 since re-starting the baseball program at Vidalia in 1979.
Joining Thompson on the mound are Monterey freshman Hunter Frey and Huntington senior Jess Dossett.
Frey was 2-6 on the mound for the Wolves, but drew the toughest assignments and gave up 55 earned runs over 62 innings.
Dossett had a 350 earned run average and batted .390.
The catcher is Vidalia sophomore Matt Souderes, who hit .392.
The infield consists of Vidalia senior John Brixey, Viking senior B.J. Neely, Viking sophomore Jamale Davis, Huntington junior Hunter Knapp, Huntington sophomore Jared Hedrick, Monterey senior Ross Lipsey and Monterey eighth-grader Dillion Smith.
Brixey hit .358 with a team-high seven home runs. He also led the team with 40 RBIs. with 21 RBIs.
Neely batted .292, while Smith led Monterey with a .438 average. Knapp hit .365. Lipsey finished the season with a .397 batting average.
Hedrick batted .370.
Davis hit .286 and had two home runs.
The designated hitter is Monterey junior Nick Blake.
Blake batted .304.
The outfield consists of Vidalia junior Caleb Vines, Monterey senior Chance Cooper, Viking senior Seth Barlow and Vidalia sophomore Nate Bozeman.
Vines hit .361 and led the Vikings with 30 stolen bases.Barlow batted .422 and scored 35 runs. Bozeman hit .310. Cooper batted .377.
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