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West Alabama baseball teams gearing up for playoffs




The South Lamar High School baseball team hasn''t lost to a team in its classification this season. 


South Lamar will attempt to keep that trend going Friday when it begins play in the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class A playoffs. 


South Lamar (12-12), which has lost to 10 playoff teams in higher classifications, will face Parkway Christian (7-7) in a best-of-three series.  


The teams will play a doubleheader at 5 p.m. Friday and a single game at 1 p.m. Saturday if needed. 


"I think we''re peaking at the right time," South Lamar coach Rusty Funk said. "We''re doing a good job. We''re playing better defensively. We''re hitting the ball real well. As a team we''re batting a little over .300. We think our chances are real good." 


In other AHSAA playoff action Friday involving teams from West Alabama, Sulligent will play host to Sand Rock at 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. in Class 2A, and Gordo will entertain Trinity at 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. in Class 3A. 


Pickens Academy has clinched a berth in the Alabama Independent School Association Class AA playoffs, but won''t know its opponent until after Friday. The playoffs begin a week from Friday. 


Eric Adams (5-4) is scheduled to pitch the first game for South Lamar, and Brad McCool (4-2) is slated to go in the second game. If the teams split the doubleheader and play Saturday, freshman Trent Wilson will pitch for the Stallions. 


Funk believes playing teams in larger classifications will help the Stallions in the playoffs. 


"It''s prepared us well," Funk said. "We feel pretty confident because all of our losses have been to bigger schools. We feel like playing the better competition makes us reach a little higher." 


Nathan Funk (.430 batting average, 10 doubles, and 18 stolen bases) leads South Lamar''s offense. Russ Cole (.366, seven doubles, and five home runs), McCool (.385 and nine doubles), and Adams (.350, four doubles, two triples, and two home runs) also lead the way. 


Pickens Academy is 17-2 and leads the AISA Class AA West Region with an 8-1 mark. The Pirates play a doubleheader at Escambia Academy today and will play host to Southern Academy on Friday. They need to win two of the three games to win the region. 


Marengo Academy is second behind Pickens Academy with a 9-3 region record and is through playing league games. Escambia Academy also has three losses. 


Pickens Academy is bidding to finish in the top two of the region so it can host the first round of the playoffs. The teams play a doubleheader a week from Friday and an if necessary game on Saturday. The Pirates would play host to all three games if they''re one of the top two teams in the West.  


Pickens Academy will have a week off in preparation for the playoffs after concluding the regular season Friday. 


"We''ve been playing a lot lately with these rainouts and we need a little rest," Pickens Academy coach Brach White said. "We''re traveling to Escambia (today), which is over three hours away." 


Pickens Academy has clinched a playoff berth after winning seven games last season and three the previous campaign. 


"Our goal at the start of the season was to make the playoffs," White said. "I make our kids do goals -- team goals and individual goals -- and our goal was to get into the playoffs. A goal is hard to reach. When you''ve struggled in the last few years, just getting there is big." 


Pickens Academy''s top pitchers are Chase Davidson (6-0) and Tyler Vails (5-1). 


Cody McAteer is Pickens Academy''s leading hitter with a .507 average. He has nine doubles, two triples, two home runs and 20 RBIs. 


Other leading hitters for the Pirates are Jeremy Pate (.423, three home runs, five doubles, and 21 RBIs), Vails (.328 and 17 RBIs), and Kirk Lewis (.316, two home runs, one triple, five doubles, and 16 RBIs). 






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