Workman-like attitude puts Eagles in playoffs

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 29, 2005

When Fort Dale Academy's cleanup hitter Chuck Barrett steps to the plate there isn't any more pressure on him to produce than anyone else in the lineup.

Sure Barrett is the Eagles leading hitter batting .482 with three home runs and 18 RBIs, but he isn't the only hot bat the plate lately for Fort Dale. Barrett is one of seven starters on the field for the Eagles, who are in the AISA playoffs for the first time since 2000, batting .300 or better.

And since Barrett is tied for the team lead with three home runs, he said that he doesn't feel like he need to hit a home run to give his team a boost.

Execution has been the key for the Eagles, who will host Faith Academy in the first round of the playoffs starting Tuesday.

"Everyone knows their job in the line up," Barrett said. "Our leadoff hitter knows he's expected to get on base and if I can't drive him in then I know (the next person) will."

It's that blue-collar mentality that has brought eighth-ranked Fort Dale Academy this far.

"The biggest thing is that it doesn't matter what I ask of them to do because I know they will get it done," Eagles coach Clint Lowery said.

The eight seniors on this squad also have refused to lose, too. They did plenty of that in their freshman year going 1-27.

"After you've gone 1-27 you make up your mind to either quit (baseball) or go to the playoffs because you don't want to be 1-27 anymore," Lowery said. "You can't teach effort. Either they want to succeed or not."

So far Fort Dale has succeeded in posting its first winning season in five years in addition to earning a playoff berth for the first time in as many years, too.

Barrett says the team's resurgence comes from coaching, and Lowery says the Eagles' prosperity comes from unselfish play.

"It doesn't seem to matter to them who makes the plays or has the big hit as long as they win," Lowery said.

Fort Dale was swept by Faith Academy during the Eagles' second and third game of the season. Faith crushed Fort Dale in Game 1, 16-1 and then fell in a closer game, 6-3.

But Lowery said his team is much better than it was in the first week of the season.

"Everything - pitching, hitting and fielding - we're 100 percent better," he said. "I think it will be a good ballgame. But I expect everyone in the playoffs will be better than they were that early in the season."

After crushing Hooper last week, Lowery said that the Eagles are playing their best ball right now.

"We played our best games of the season at Hooper," he said. "And with everything going on, we had one of our best practices on Tuesday. If we are at our peak right now, I like our chances against Faith."

Adam Moore is expected to take the mound for Game 1 of the best-of-three series against Faith on Tuesday. Twin brother David Moore could start Game 2. If a deciding game is necessary, Barrett could start.