Vikings hope Miracle’ paves the way

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 20, 2004

[2/20/04]Randy Broome turned to a feel-good movie about a hockey team to show his players that anything can be accomplished.

Nearly two weeks before the season was set to begin, Broome took his team to watch the movie “Miracle” that chronicled the 1980 United States Olympic hockey team’s run to a gold medal.

The American team, consisting of all amateurs, defeated the mighty Soviet Union in the Olympic semifinals in what many consider the greatest upset in sport on any level.

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletter

Receive daily headlines and obituaries

“Do you believe in miracles?” announcer Al Michaels said as the final seconds ticked off in the Americans’ victory.

Broome certainly won’t battle the odds the Americans did 24 years ago, but his team faces an uphill climb nonetheless. And most of it will be on the hill.

“It’s a big question,” WC pitcher Zach Balthrop said. “We’re not going to have any overpowering guys like a (Taylor) Tankersley, who will go out and strike out 15 a game. We’ll have a lot of groundouts and popouts.”

The Vikings lost two of their top three pitchers from last year’s team, and Broome is concerned about finding some younger arms to fill in the rotation.

Senior Mark Different, juniors Drew Warnock and Balthrop, and sophomore Parker White will make up the pitching rotation, with several other being used in spot starts and relief.

“We have a chance to go out and throw strikes,” Broome said. “It will give our defense a chance to make plays.”

Three years removed from their state championship run, the Vikings will look to reach the playoffs again after missing the postseason last year.

Vicksburg High, which returns a wealth of pitching talent, Forest Hill and Natchez will make up the Vikings’ division. Clinton moved to the North State, while the Vikings were shipped south.

“We think Vicksburg will be the team to beat, but what can you say? You just have to go out and play ball,” Balthrop said.

The division schedule may be the least of the Vikings’ worries as Broome has scheduled another demanding slate.

Games against state powers Hattiesburg, Oak Grove, Meridian and several Louisiana powerhouses, including a doubleheaders against Broome’s alma mater, Tara High of Baton Rouge, highlight the 26-game slate.

Warren Central, which finished 11-15, will open the season on Saturday with a doubleheader against Hattiesburg, then Oak Grove both on the road.

The Vikings first home game is scheduled for March 2 against Ridgeland.

“It will be a challenge,” Balthrop said. “It always is.”