Long-time Goal

Published 12:03 am Thursday, April 19, 2012

Andalusia, St. James to square off in 1st round


Accomplished. Different. Well-deserved.


These are just a few words Andalusia’s three seniors used to describe their feelings going into the Class 4A state playoffs this week.


Tyler Raines, Jay Brewer and Stewart Studstill have played their entire high school career with this goal in mind — make the state playoffs.


On Friday, the Bulldogs will face an experienced St. James team in a best 2-out-of-3 series. There will be a doubleheader, and if the teams split on the first day, then there will be a tiebreaker game on Saturday.


“It certainly has been our goal,” Raines said about making the playoffs. “This year, we came together as a team, and we did what we had to do to make it.”


In the past seasons, the Bulldogs have literally been one or two games shy of making the playoffs.


Raines said the team didn’t play in a “selfish” way on the field, this season.


“We didn’t care who got (the ball). We just wanted to win,” he said.


Andalusia clinched its berth early last week with its second area game win over rival Straughn.


Brewer said it was a “relief” to get that win.


“It was just kind of different because we’ve never felt like this before,” Brewer said.


St. James enters the contest with a 26-6 record and ranked No. 6 in Class 4A.


AHS coach Jonathan Rasberry said his team needs to do the same things the coaches have “preached all year.”


“I think we have to have good approaches to the plate — what we’ve preached all year,” Rasberry said. “We have to execute well in certain situations. I think we have to throw strikes. They’re a very good baseball team.”


Rasberry said the team has a challenge in front of it, but also needs to play with “a lot of passion and intensity.”


“They’re one of the top teams in the state,” he said. “We have to get after it for seven innings in the first game, and another seven innings in the second game.


“I think, if we do that, and we take care of us, I think, we’ll have a chance to more on to the second round,” he said.


When asked how essential is it for his seniors to show leadership on the field tomorrow night, Rasberry said he’s expecting them to show what “they’re made of.”


“They’ve played all four years,” he said. “I’m excited for them to get the opportunity to experience the playoffs.


“I’ve been in it as a player. I haven’t been in it as a coach,” he said. “It’s just as exciting. I’m just excited for them and this team to have the opportunity to extend this season. Your No. 1 goal is to win the last game. When you’re in the playoffs and you win the last game, you win the state championship.”


Sitting and watching his players warm up for practice this week, Rasberry said he’d like to thank the many people who have helped the team this year, especially the parents, school administration and the City of Andalusia.


“We’ve had the most support I’ve seen for a baseball program,” he said. “A lot of the credit goes to the parents and the community. It’s allowed us to do a lot of things — these dugouts.


“I want to thank the city, too,” he said. “They’ve done a phenomenal job of keeping up this field. We’ve not played on a field nicer this year. I don’t think we will play on a field that’s nicer than our own. It makes you want to play harder.”


First pitch is slated for 4 p.m. The second game is slated to start around 6:30 p.m.