Tigers ready for championship series with Golden Eagles

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 18, 2005

DEMOPOLIS – As the Demopolis High School varsity baseball team prepares for it’s second consecutive trip to the AHSAA 4A championship series, the Tigers are more prepared this year for the challenge ahead of them.

And according to DHS head coach James Moody, past experience in championship games will definitely give the Tigers an edge.

“I think within the course of one year with the majority of these kids going to three state championships has got to pay off for them with two in baseball and one in football,” Moody said.

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“I hope that when we get through this year that everything won’t be quite as dramatic to us as it was last year.

Experience is a mighty big asset.”

Assistant coach Danny Wasson agreed, adding that last year ‘experience’ was the difference.

“Looking back, that was probably Hokes Bluff biggest asset last year,” Wasson said.

“That they had been there before.”

The Tigers will be battling the Jacksonville Golden Eagles beginning Friday evening at 7 p.m. at Paterson Field in Montgomery.

Game two and three (if necessary) will be played on Saturday afternoon beginning at 4 p.m. at Riverwalk Stadium.

“Our friends to the north are not quite so friendly about giving out information,” Moody said.

“I have been able to get probably enough, but I’ve had a lot of no calls back so far.

But I think I’ve got enough right now to go on.

“Pitching is their [Jacksonville’s] greatest strength.

We need to keep swinging and not make errors.

We very well could see as good of pitching as we’ve seen, and we’ve seen some very good pitching this year.

But I just hope that they haven’t seen as good of hitting.”

It’s hard to believe that anyone has seen as good of hitting as what DHS has been doing as of lately – their latest gig being a 12-run two-out rally in the sixth inning last week against Thomasville.

The Tigers will be throwing Devin Goodwin (8-2, 1.86 ERA) in game one on Friday evening.

“At this point, it’s kind of like last year,” Moody said.

“Tyler [Moody] had pitched four innings of varsity last year.

We went over there and in the first game we got behind 5-0.

But I knew Tyler had a little velocity and I knew that he knew how to pitch, so I brought Tyler in that ball game.

And he slammed the door on them and we tied it up actually.

So this time of year, I’ve told the guys – you have to be ready at any time.

Because sometimes, especially in the playoffs, if a team doesn’t know something about someone and you can get them in there for two or three innings, it’s a benefit for you.

Now if everything goes great, we’re going to settle for the same script we’ve been taking.”

According to coach Moody, Jacksonville is very capable of putting up big numbers and they have a very strong pitching staff.

“They [Jacksonville] are very capable and they have been runner-up the past few years in the north,” Moody said.

“They are about 28-6 this year and they were ranked in the top five most of this year.

But I knew after last year that they had a lot of arms returning and they would have a chance in the north.”

With a high school championship series comes the drama and excitement that comes along with pro championships such as the World Series, and coach Moody and his staff are ready for just about anything thrown at them.

“Anything can change at any minute and anybody could have to go,” Moody said.

“But you just have to go on gut feeling on how thing are at the moment.

In baseball, you better plan out.

You try to plan out – okay if this happens, if they just completely are killing us early, what am I going to do?

If it’s close in the middle and we get in trouble, what am I going to do?

If it’s close late, what am I going to do?

And you better have it all planned out and have an idea.

Usually I know what I want to do and I’ll ask coach Wasson ‘what do you think?’ and most of the time we’re pretty close.

But ultimately, I am going to try and throw in there who I have already pre-determined way ahead of time.”

Another benefit to the Tigers long season has been the fact that they have competed in a lot of area tournaments that have given their players chances to pitch and play other positions.

“One of the benefits to playing in some of the tournaments we have participated in this year is that you get down to where you have to throw anybody that can stand up there and throw it,” Moody said.

“Certainly we don’t want to get in that situation in the championship series, but all these guys have thrown some and experience helps.”

Game plans for this weekend’s championship series are not much different than any other game, but coach Moody has spoken with his players about being ready to move offensively at any time.

“We’ve talked to the hitters a little bit about things we might need to do offensively,” Moody said.

“Move the ball a little bit and to make them [Jacksonville] move a little bit on defense.

We need to try to get them moving some and small ball situations if it has to come down to that.

Just basically doing the same things we’ve been doing.

“Their catcher, from everything I understand, is a real good catcher and has a good arm, but if we see our opportunity, we’re going to try and take them and go from there.

I think when we’re really best on the bases is with multiple runners on – I call it the carousel effect – where we just get people moving all over the place and try to take an extra base here or there.

And sometimes we get thrown out, but as long as we’re being aggressive and fairly smart, I don’t have a problem with that.”

So what’s the key to beating the Golden Eagles?

“As long as we can try to keep those pitchers in the stretch and keep them working out of the stretch, I think it increases our odds of success,” Moody said.

“Everybody is – knock on wood – in good shape.

We’ll leave Friday afternoon, stop and hit somewhere, and then take it from there.”

So far in the postseason, the Demopolis Tigers are undefeated, sitting at a perfect 7-0.

Two more wins and a perfect 9-0 postseason will mean another state title for the Tigers of Demopolis.

The action begins on Friday at 4 p.m. in Montgomery and come Saturday night, the 2005 4A state champion will be crowned.