Valdosta Daily Times

March 8, 2013

Vikings open region play tonight

Ed Hooper
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — The Lowndes baseball team opens region play this afternoon with a doubleheader against the Coffee Trojans at Noel George Field in Valdosta.  

The first pitch of game one is set for 4 p.m.

Teams will play a doubleheader to help reduce travel within the new Region 1-6A alignment this season.

Under the new scheduling system, each team in the region will host three doubleheaders and will play three doubleheaders on the road. Each team will also receive a Friday off.

Lowndes’ stretch of doubleheaders begins today with Coffee. The Vikings will also host Colquitt County (March 29) and Brunswick (April 12). They will visit Tift County (next week), Valdosta (March 22) and Camden County (April 19).

 “You almost treat game one like a playoff series,” Lowndes head coach Danny Redshaw said. “You want to win game one and go from there. It is definitely different.”

The Vikings enter region play with a 3-3 overall record, following an 11-10 loss to Cook on Tuesday night in Adel.

The Hornets racked up nine hits off of Lowndes’ pitchers, but took advantage of two errors to down the Vikings.

So far this season, errors have been the Achilles heel for the Vikings. Through the first six games, they’ve committed 11 errors and allowed 10 unearned runs.

“We haven’t been consistent,” Redshaw said. “We have a chance to have a good team. When we play, we can with anybody. When we don’t play, anybody can beat us. We are looking for kids to relax and have fun. If we make routine plays, we will be fine. We also have to do better with situation hitting.”

One thing doubleheaders will expose this season is teams with a lack of depth at key positions. Right now, Lowndes is lacking depth in its pitching staff because of injuries.

“You have to piece it together. That is why you have to win the first game,” Redshaw said. “Our pitching depth isn’t what we want it to be.”

One pitcher who isn’t hurt is Cory Pope. Pope has been the complete opposite. The junior leads the Vikings with a 1.24 earned run average in 17 innings pitched, and has a team-high 25 strikeouts this season.

He will start game one today for the Vikings.

“Cory Pope has been a big surprise on the mound,” Redshaw said. “He showed us some promise over the summer, but he has put it together. We are going to start Pope in game one. He is the best we’ve got.”

At the plate, the Vikings are hitting .322 as a team, with Cam Buescher leading the way.

Buescher has a .389 average — the second highest on the team behind Garrett Hill’s .429 average in just seven at-bats. Buescher leads the Vikings with seven hits, three doubles and seven RBIs. He also has the Vikings’ only home run this season.

“Cam Buescher has been off to a good start,” Redshaw said. “We’ve been expecting that. He has worked hard.”

Lowndes opened the season with a 7-6 win over Berrien in the Wildcat Invitational at Valdosta High. Following an 0-2 road trip to South Florida — losing to Florida Christian 6-2 and La Salle 4-3 — the Vikings beat Ponte Vedra and Pace in the Georgia/Florida Challenge.

All of Lowndes’ region baseball games can be heard live on 106.9 FM The Eagle.