Last season, the Tigers defeated Cleburne County in the first round of the playoffs and fell to Alexandria in the second round. Childersburg will look to take a step in avoiding a repeat today as they host Alexandria in a best-of-3 Class 4A series. The first game of the doubleheader starts at 4 p.m. The if-necessary game would be Saturday at noon.
“It is the same scenario from last year,” Childersburg head coach Chad Slaten said. “We had Cleburne County in the first round and Alexandria in the second round. Cleburne County was good like they were last year and Alexandria is good like they were last year.
“The only difference – which is a very good positive for us – is that we are at home this year. Like we talked about last week, it is always good being at home. The further you go in the playoffs the more people are going to start coming. We had a great crowd last week and I imagine that it will be bigger this week. I am still tickled to death over last week’s series, but like I told the guys on Monday, that is over with and don’t be satisfied with that. You need to get hungry and let’s go as far as we can.”
Slaten said he feels that Alexandria (19-15) and Childersburg’s baseball programs are similar.
“Alexandria has great tradition, great coaching staff and great players,” Slaten said. “They think they do belong and they do belong. They think they should win. They are a lot like we are. We try to teach the same thing. We try to get our kids to think they are supposed to win and they do.
“Our kids think they should win and Alexandria thinks they are supposed to win, too. I think our programs are very similar. … I am expecting a good series. They are going to give it their best shot and we better be ready to give our best shot.”
Childersburg (22-9) defeated Cleburne County in the third game of the series to advance to the second round. The Tigers received huge performances from their underclassmen. Slaten said he will need his underclassmen to have a similar performance if they are going to make a deep post season run.
“We were actually led by our sophomores last week,” Slaten said. “They played lights out and we had some big time games by some young kids. Obviously, it is good for the future, but right now our future is this weekend. The deeper you go, you can’t start pressing, you have to keep playing and I think they will. I think their confidence is really high right now and we feel good about where we are. They have not played like freshmen and sophomores this year. We knew they couldn’t if we were going to go somewhere.”
Sophomore Reeves Brashear said the Tigers are prepared for Alexandria. Brashear won the pivotal second game for Childersburg against Cleburne County. Brashear, who will be the starting pitcher in Game 2, believes the Tiger are prepared.
“We are focused,” Brashear said. “We have been practicing all week preparing for Alexandria. I think they have the same team from last year and we are prepared. We’ve been hitting off the curve ball machine and we have been seeing the ball really well. I think we will be ready to play.”
Hitting will play a vital role in determining the outcome. Sophomore Peyton Logan said they have been preparing for Alexandria’s ace pitcher Justin Bowen all week.
“Their No. 1 throws a lot of curve balls and we haven’t seen a lot of that all year,” Logan said. “We have been out here working all week on curve balls and stuff so we will be ready for him.”
Trevor Bates said trying to get revenge is something that is motivating the players.
“I want some revenge, all of us do,” Bates said. “They are coming to our place this year and we are not going to let it happen again. I know we are prepared. We are going to go out there and play our best.”
Will Donahoo earned the win in the decisive game against Cleburne County. He said playing in front of your home crowd in the playoffs is an advantage.
“We have a great fan base,” he said. “It is a great home field advantage. Last year, when we played Alexandria, their fans were wild and crazy. They had a guy, when they scored runs, he would rev up that motorcycle. It was very annoying.”
Slaten believes the team that makes the fundamental plays and gets hits will advance to the third round next Friday.
“We are going to have to make routine plays,” Slaten said. “We cannot afford to give them any outs. Alexandria is the type of team, if you give them extra outs, they are going to make you pay and you are going to be playing catch up. We have to make the routine plays, we have to throw strikes, we have to make them earn everything they get.
“I tell our pitchers all the time if they give up six hits in a row I’ll be fine with it, but if you get the first two outs and walk one that gripes me. We are going to have to make them hit the baseball and not walk anybody. We can’t make any errors, and we have to play smart baseball.
“When we get on the base paths, we have to be smart. We have to hit, obviously. This time of year people say pitching, pitching, pitching. We have been fortunate to win two state championships and every year it was high scoring, and we had really good pitching staffs. The deeper you go in the playoffs, the more runs you better be ready to score because you are going to have to be able to hit to win.”