Childersburg goes into playoffs with momentum
by LAVONTE YOUNG
CHILDERSBURG — For the last three weeks, the Childersburg Tigers have had a playoff mentality. The Tigers played in one of the toughest regions in Class 4A, and Childersburg head coach Chad Slaten knew his team had to play their best just to make the postseason.

“Four of the teams in our area where capable of going deep into the postseason and of course only two can go,” Slaten said.

“To win the area and only lose one area game, I am very proud of them. They already accomplished a lot because of the toughness of our area.

“Going into the playoffs, I feel like we are on a good roll. I think we are playing really good baseball and we better be, because we have a team coming in here Friday that’s a good baseball team.”

The Tigers (29-5) will host the first-round series against a very tough Handley (21-9) team Friday.

The first game of the doubleheader starts at 4 p.m.

“We got a tough draw,” Slaten said. “Handley is in the same area as Beauregard that played for the state championship last year. Handley is in the same area as Dadeville. Handley is going to the playoffs and Dadeville is not. They beat Dadeville.

“We ae going to have our hands full. That is why I am glad we are playing the way that we are playing. I am glad we had to play the teams we played in our area, because every game has been a playoff atmosphere. I hope we don’t lay an egg Friday, because we prepared ourselves to go play in this type of environment. The last three weeks we prepared ourselves, because of the toughness of our area.”

With rain in the forecast for late Thursday into Friday, there is a chance the first pitch won’t be thrown until Saturday. Slaten said they are going to do everything in their power to play Friday afternoon.

“We are going to do everything we can, because I want to play Friday,” Slaten said. “I have already spoken to Handley’s coach and he wants to play Friday. Saturday is going to be really nice and Monday is going to be really nice. If we can’t play Friday, we will play two on Saturday and the if-game will be Monday. I am not going to put us out there on a wet field, so if we can get it ready for good turf then we will play Saturday. We are going to do everything that we can to do it Friday, because we want to play Friday. The kids are ready to play and their kids are ready to play, so that is what we are going to do.”

Slaten believes things really began to click for his team during their spring break when they played in the Gulf Coast Classic at Gulf Shores.

“It is great trip for us,” Slaten said. “I told them that they better take advantage like the other teams have because when we come back it’s going to be rough. We had to play Tallassee, Holtville and Elmore County in a week and a half. Those three teams were ranked all year. We went down and went 4-1. We played really good. We came from behind in a game. I just thought it was a great trip and ever since then we have been playing really good baseball. We have seen really good pitching, really good coaching and we have been seeing really good teams.”

The Tigers are still fairly young, but on the field, most of their starters have two or three years of experience. Throwing his young players in the fire as ninth graders has really paid off and it is showing in their play.

“We have been getting really good pitching from Zach Lightsey,” Slaten said. “Zach has really come on strong. I think he has given up one run in his last 24 innings. He has been doing a really good job. We have been getting good pitching all year.

“Alex Bentley has thrown the ball really well for us. Reeves Brashear, Will Donahoo, Justin Baker, Walker Holmes, those guys have pitched really well this year. We like our pitching staff. If feel like if they will throw strikes and give us a chance to win that we have a good chance to win. That’s all we ask our pitcher to do, throw strikes. I cant stand to watch base on balls, and we don’t like giving those up.”

From the plate, Childersburg has several players that have been swinging the bat well over the last couple of weeks.

“Zach Lightsey has been swinging the bat well,” Slaten said. “Alex Bentley has been swinging real well. Reeves Brashear has been swinging it well. Trevor Bates has come on strong the last couple of weeks and is swinging it really good.

“I am not a guy that really likes to talk up, because then you go out and lay an egg. I don’t want to jinx us, because I am a superstitious baseball coach. But I will say stats speak for themselves and we have some guys that have been playing really good. Peyton Logan has been swinging it really good and has been playing a really good first base for us.”

For the last 11 years, Slaten has had his team over to his house on Thursday nights to eat and watch movies.

“Tomorrow night is the night that our parents get together for a feast,” Slaten said. “We are going to do a lot of eating. Then we get together and watch some kind of good movie. We started doing that in 2002. Of course, we won the state championship that year. When these guys were in the seventh and eighth grade, they looked forward to this kind of stuff. Now it is their turn. That is why I am so proud of these guys. It is their turn to carry on certain things and we are sitting here 29-7. If we can get 30 wins this weekend that’s pretty good baseball at the 4A level especially since you don’t have that type of pitching to play that many games. They have done a great job.”
© 2013