April 15, 2010 9:53:00 AM
Jason Clark set a goal to make the state playoffs in his first season as baseball coach at Lamar County High School.
Clark has realized that goal, leading the Bulldogs to the first round of the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 2A playoffs.
Lamar County (14-6) will open the playoffs Friday at Westbrook Christian in Rainbow City, Ala. The teams begin a best-of-three series with a doubleheader at 5 p.m. Friday. Game three would be at 1 p.m. Saturday.
"It''s been extremely rewarding," Clark said of leading the Bulldogs to the playoffs. "Our main goal was to make the playoffs and we were able to accomplish that, so I''m excited and all the kids are excited."
In other first-round playoff series that start with doubleheaders Friday, South Lamar will play host to Parkway Christian in Class A and Sulligent will play host to Sand Rock in Class AA.
Lamar County will make its first playoff appearance since 1993.
"I''ve used that as a motivational reminder from time to time," Clark said. "We''re excited. We''re thrilled to be in the playoffs. Now you start all even and once you make it anything can happen."
Westbrook Christian is in the playoffs again after making it to the semifinals last season.
"They''re a solid baseball team," Clark said. "It will be a great challenge for us, but I think the guys are up for the challenge."
Clark''s tentative plan is start Alex Denton (6-2) one game and Brantley Stanford (2-1) in the other Friday.
South Lamar coach Lane Wright and Sulligent coach James Tidwell also have led their teams to the state playoffs in their first years at their schools.
South Lamar (8-16) will play host Parklane Christian by virtue of winning the Class A, Area 10 championship. The first game is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Friday.
The Stallions clinched a playoff berth despite starting six sophomores, two freshman, and an eighth- or seventh-grader at designated hitter.
"It meant a lot to these kids because they were told they weren''t going to be able to do it because of their youth," Wright said. "People have told them they''re too young."
Trent Wilson (2-4) is scheduled to take the mound in one game and Brad McCool (2-5) the other Friday.
Wilson will pitch for the first time in a week and a half after he pulled a muscle in his lower back.
Wright coached Sulligent to the second round of the playoffs last season and was replaced by Tidwell.
Wright didn''t leave the cupboard bare for Tidwell, who has seven seniors and two juniors.
Sulligent (17-6) will play host to Sand Rock at 3 p.m. in the first of two games Friday.
"It was one of our goals when we started the season to win the area so we''d get a home playoff game," Tidwell said. "That was big for us."
It is the second year in a row for Sulligent to play Sand Rock in the first round of the playoffs.
Parker Northington (6-3) is scheduled to start one game and Logan Helms, Nathan Collins, and Daniel Kirkman are candidates to start the other game.