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Patriots return to field

Pike Liberal Arts School players congratulate Sam Carroll, right, following Carroll's home run during a baseball game in Troy, Ala., Monday, March 14, 2011. (Messenger Staff Photo/Thomas Graning)

For the first time in almost a week, Pike Liberal Arts will be back on the baseball diamond on Friday.

The last time the Patriots finished up a game, it claimed victory to its school’s Jonah McWaters Tournament trophy this past Saturday. Since then, the team has been able to enjoy the sunny weather while not being on the baseball field, as the school is currently in its Spring Break. But on Wednesday, it was back to busy for a PLAS team that has reeled off 16-straight wins, as it looks to keep in going in the upcoming Tuscaloosa Academy Tournament this weekend.

And even though the Patriots had just three days off, head coach Butch Austin said that short amount of time can make a big difference.

“The way we were going, I hate to see us have to go on break,” the coach said. “We were hitting and pitching well. But I think the guys needed a break, and I needed a break. We are going to get back to it in the next couple of days before the tournament.”

The coach’s main concern is how the team will respond when it returns to the plate.

To redeem that issue, the team will be in the batting cages most of the time during its practices. “Three days off is going to hurt, I know it’s going to hit,” Austin said. “If you hit every day and then miss a couple of days it’s going to show.”

Another aspect that could be affected is the defense, but the team’s starting shortstop, Chandler Avant, does not believe his team will be too far off from where they stopped last.

“We have been playing pretty hard lately,” he said.

“But I think we are going to be all right when we get back to a game.

“This is a pretty special team, we are all friends here. We know how to motivate one another.”