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PLAS enters playoffs against Clarke Prep

There have been many firsts for Pike Liberal Arts athletics in the past two years.

The football team won its first state championship in the fall of 2008, while the varsity girls’ basketball team won its first championship this past January.

The baseball will be looking to add its name to that list of sports, as it enters the 2010 AISA state playoffs today against Clarke Prep.

PLAS enters the postseason with a 27-3 overall record, with its last loss coming back towards the end of March to Macon-East.

The Gators, from AAA Region 2, will travel to Butch Austin Field with a 10-11 overall record.

“We know they have a good left-hander pitcher and a good right-handed pitcher,” head coach Butch Austin said. “Both throw around 80 mph and both are good pitchers.”

“They hit the ball real well too. They are a mighty young team, but they will have a lot of energy and coming up here to win,” the coach added.

As far as his own team goes, Austin said his team is ready to play.

“We have had a good week of practice and we hit the ball really well (on Wednesday).

“I have gone over everything with the guys and they all seem ready to go,” he said.

One of the Patriots strong points this season has been its ability to control a game from the mound.

The Patriot pitchers combined for an ERA around 3.63, with over 210 strikeouts while giving up just over 130 hits in 170 innings.

That aspect of the game is something that the coach believes will hold true during the second season.

“I think our pitching will be the thing that helps us get to the second round,” Austin said.

The Patriots will be going with senior Logan Stewart on the mound in game one. Stewart’s last start was against Lee-Scott on April 12.

In the Patriot win, Stewart pitched six complete innings, striking out two and giving up five earned runs on five hits.

“I talked with Logan about (that start),” Austin said.

“Logan was throwing very few first pitch strikes, and those are very important.

“But he has worked on it a lot and I think we will be fine (on Friday),” he said.

For the season, the senior finished with a 3-1 overall record, a 5.01 ERA with 19 strikeouts in 22.1 innings.

The coach said that Sam Carroll would likely get the start in the second game.

Carroll pitched the first four innings in last Friday’s game against Fort Dale, striking out three, while giving up two earned runs on three hits.