COVINGTON — Alcovy's baseball team knows what it must do when it plays at Lowndes in the second-round doubleheader of the Class AAAAAA playoffs today starting at 4:30 p.m. The question is, can the Tigers do it?
"This will be the best team we've seen so far. We've faced some good teams but at this time of the year when you face a No. 1 seed team with tradition and a strong region, they're going to be top of the line," Alcovy head coach Casey Bates said.
"When you get to the second, third and fourth round it doesn't matter what seed you are. It matters who's playing well and who's not."
The main starting pitchers for Alcovy (21-6), Jake Jones, Tristan Payne and Dalton Reagin, have their work cut out for them as the Vikings (20-8) are loaded with quality hitters.
Lowndes' three most consecutive hitters are John Day (.397), David Wortham (.325) and Cam Buescher (.311) with junior catcher Buck Carter, who has already verbally committed to Georgia and can swing it as well, hitting .274.
As a team, the Vikings have a batting average of .287 and have combined for eight home runs, 26 extra-base hits and 40 stolen bases.
"We don't have pitchers that will blow it by you," Bates said. "We have pitchers that will do their job as far as throwing strikes and getting the batter to swing the bat. In high school you win a lot of ball games doing that. We have to do our job, it's the playoffs and nothing is easy."
Offensively, the Alcovy batters are going to have to get past some strong pitching which has given up just 76 hits all year while striking out 146 batters and holding an opponent batting average of .215.
The key to getting past the Vikings' pitching, according to Bates, is to have solid hitting production from the top half of the lineup with the bottom half finding some way to get on base.
"We're not a home run hitting team, so we need to go out and play small ball, put the ball in play and see what happens," he said.
If it isn't enough to face a quality team on the road, the Tigers also have to contend with a four-hour bus ride and something they have not faced this season -- heat. The temperature at game time is going to be in the low 80s.
"It's going to be warm, so we're going to have to drink a lot of fluids," Bates said. "We're going to leave (Alcovy) at 6:30 in the morning and stop halfway at Cordele to take batting practice. From there we'll go to the hotel at Valdosta, shower and rest up before getting dressed before we go to the field. I don't want to drive four hours and take batting practice before the game. I want to play the game fresh.
"I know they're a well-coached team with a strong tradition and they're the No. 1 seed from a good region. We have our work cut out for us, that's for sure."