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PLAS faces defending state champs in first round

The baseball world was not kind to the Pike Liberal Arts baseball team.

The Patriots made the AISA state playoffs for the first time since 1997 with a perfect region record. The Patriots' reward? They get to play the defending state champions.

"That doesn't matter; you have to play everybody anyway. Might as well be them you start off with," said head coach Butch Austin.

The Patriots battle defending champs Lee-Scott today in a doubleheader starting at 2 p.m. The two teams will face each other in a best-of-three series. If a third game is necessary, it will be played Thursday. The winner will advance to the state finals in Selma.

Despite the fact Lee-Scott is the defending champion, Austin said he was not worried about the draw. After a five-season drought of playoff appearances, the Patriots are just happy to have a chance to keep playing.

"Everyone has been in good spirits this week," Austin said. "We've been having good practices. We've been hitting well, pitching well and fielding well. All the players are excited about the chance to go to the playoffs."

Justin Sims will get the start in the first game of the day and Brandon Hooks will start the second game.

Sims shut down Hooper over the weekend with a shutout for a 7-0 win. Hooks also collected a win, but he allowed five runs in the 17-5 victory.

"Both our pitchers are doing well this year," Austin said. "I just hope we win both tomorrow."

Because of rules regarding innings pitched, if the Patriots had to play a third game Thursday, neither pitcher would be available. That would mean a third pitcher would have to be used, and the top two pitchers would have to watch.

No game time has been set for Thursday's game. If it is necessary, the time will be announced after today's games.