Lady Tigers head back to area play

Published 10:19 pm Tuesday, April 14, 2009

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Demopolis (6-16, 3-0) got in its final day of practice Tuesday before it travels to Clanton Wednesday for an area showdown with Chilton County High. While his team will make the double-elimination area tournament regardless, DHS head coach Joey Browder does not downplay the significance of the Lady Tigers’ Wednesday and Friday contests with CCHS.

“We approach both games this week as must-haves,” Browder said. “With the weight of our schedule, we’ve talked all year about games that we absolutely have to have.”

While this week’s pair of games will determine the seeding for the upcoming area tournament, Browder said the contests carry with them an all-important psychological element.

“We need to take both of these games this week to go into the tournament with a little bit of a mental edge,” Browder said. “I know that Chilton is better than they have been in the last few years. They’ve got a couple of big sticks up in the lineup; good pitching. I think we match up pretty well. I know we’ve played a tougher schedule and we look for that to bear fruit.”

While his team’s record is not where he would like it to be, Browder is confident that his team is far better than it was as it limped through early season competition.

“We’ve matured leaps and bounds as the season has progressed,” Browder said. “It’s the first time in a long time that we’ve been close to having everybody healthy and ready to play.The players understand the importance of area play. The girls are determined to move ahead with the early part of the season behind us.”

Browder said the difference in his team has been apparent in its daily approach at practice.

“With field conditions and being out of school Monday, we just had a morning hitting session,” Browder said. “I was pleased with the way the girls showed up with a good attitude. Today we were able to come in and get a lot of quality over quantity, which is important this late in the season. I think we’re almost there. We’re able to come out and approach practice now with a different perspective. Everything is a lot more relaxed, yet focused. It is more fun rather than tense. We’ve got a really good attitude.”

Browder credits much of the progress his squad has made to the work of his assistant coaches.

“I’ve got three of the greatest assistants in the state,” Browder said of assistants Kyle Williams, Shannon Goggins and Leslie Higdon. “Their contribution to this program is way beyond words and way above what most people realize.”

Demopolis plays at Chilton today at 5 p.m. before hosting CCHS Friday at 5:30 p.m. Those games precede a two-week run that will see the team travel to rival Dallas County and host Sweet Water and rival Bibb County before welcoming Thomasville for a double-header.

“It is extremely important,” Browder said of the need for the team to build momentum as it heads down the stretch in the regular season. “That’s exactly why it was scheduled that way. We play Sweet Water, Dallas County and Bibb and turn right around and host Thomasville in a double-header before hosting the area tournament.”