Childersburg head coach Chad Slaten believes if both teams play like they’re capable this will be the best series of the playoffs.
“We are glad to be in the second round after a tough series last weekend,” Slaten said. “I knew it was going to be a good series with Handley. I knew they were a good ball club and it proved to be. The second round is going be even harder for us. We have Beauregard coming in. Beauregard is a very good team, a very good program, and a confident program. They played for a state championship last year and they have some of those key returners back from last year. They are well coached. Coach (A.J.) Kehoe is a buddy of mine that played at AUM with me. He does a good job with his guys and we expect nothing but their very best. We are getting ready to give them our very best and if that happens it should be a great series. By no means are we going to back down. We respect them and they respect us. It should be a good series. If both teams play good it could be the best series of the playoffs.”
The Tigers (31-6) won the series 2-1 over Handley. Alex Bentley was dominant off the mound for Childersburg in their 11-1 win on Monday. In the first two games of the series Zach Lightsey had a quality outing, but he didn’t receive any run support. Reeves Brashear picked up a 5-2 win in the second game off the mound.
“We talked about Saturday, we didn’t hit like I wanted us to and like they wanted to,” Slaten said. “We really swung it good on Monday. Our pitching was good all weekend long. Lightsey has been solid for us all year, Reeves Brashear has been solid all year, Will Donahoo has been solid for us all year, and Alex Bentley has been solid for us all year. We feel good about our pitching staff and I know they feel good about their pitching staff also. I tell you this every time we talk. I don’t ask them to strike out 10 or 11 a game, I ask them to throw strikes and give us a chance. I tell our guys all the time the best in the big leagues are unsuccessful seven out of 10 times, and they are the best. Hitting is a pretty tough thing to do, so we want our guys throwing strikes and make them hit. If we do that I feel like we have a pretty good defense. We are going to give up hits; that is part of the game. If we can minimize the walks- that is an old cliché and every coach says it, but it is very true. Don’t give people free bases; make them earn what they get, especially in the playoffs.”
Unlike their game on Saturday, Childersburg was able to get timely hits in game three. The Tigers had 10 hits. Slaten was pleased with the production of his guys at the top of the order.
“When one, two, three, four, five aren’t producing we are going to struggle and so is every team in America,” Slaten said. “So is every little league team across the road, so is every college team and professional team. If you look at the box score, if they are not getting on base and driving in runs the team is going to struggle. You will win a game 1-0 or 2-1 every now and then. You are going to have to score runs to win baseball games. I tell them all the time they hit there for a reason and I will tell them while they’re up there batting in a game. This is why you hit where you hit, do your job. I have been really pleased with guys at the top of the order, but at the same time a few games ago the top struggled and the bottom carried us. We put people in our batting order for a reason. We don’t put our number eight hitter in the eight hole because he cannot hit. We put our nine hole hitter hitting nine for a reason. He is another lead off hitter. Trevor Bates is doing a great job there for us. He led off for us last year now he is in the ninth hole this year and that is for a reason. Each person in our batting order has a job to do and if they get it done we like our chances to win.”
Seventh-ranked Beauregard enters this weekend series with a 26-10 record. The Class 4A runners up defeated Elmore County, 10-4 and 9-2 in the first round.
“The bottom line is whatever our players have to do to get ready to play they need to do it,” Slaten said. “They know how to get ready. I am not saying that they weren’t ready on Saturday, because you can be ready and get beat. That was a do or die game on Monday. When I went to address them I didn’t want to say a thing because they are ready to play. Not that I knew they were going out there to win, but I knew my team was ready. I want that same look in their eyes, that same sense of urgency and I want that same confidence not cockiness. I want confidence in their step and their swagger when they take the field Friday, because that is what it is going to take. I think if we do that we will be OK.”