Meridian Star

Sports

April 28, 2014

Southeast set to take on Morton in 3-game series

MERIDIAN — There are very few teams that can match the experience level that the 2014 Southeast Lauderdale High School team boasts.

In addition to maintaining an untarnished record in their district careers, all of the current seniors on the roster have made the playoffs in each of their four year high school careers, including a state championship in 2012.  

"They work hard every day," Southeast Lauderdale coach Shay Cooper said. "They expect to be successful. They've been to the top of it. When you've seen the top of it, it makes it a little more realistic in your mind.

"Those guys have been there. They know how great of a feeling it is to win it and be on top.”

Yet the Tigers (17-9) will face a formidable test in the second round of the MHSAA playoffs against Morton High School set to begin at 7 p.m. Thursday at Southeast.  

The Panthers are led by offensively by junior Luke Craig, who boast a .646 batting average with nine home runs, and senior pitcher Nick McCroy, who sports a 1.83 earned run average.

"They're a strong team," Cooper said. "They have a lot of tradition themselves over there. They're going to prove to be a difficult challenge."

Yet making the transition to postseason play will serve as a pivotal stretch in providing a top-notch effort in each contest as the Tigers look to carry on with their regular-season success.

"That’s something that we talk about a lot,” Cooper said. “We have to give that championship effort every game and not just pick and choose spots. That's one of the things that we've concentrated on in our discussions."

And with the playoffs comes an increased level of competition, something Cooper’s squad will be forced to manage in the high stakes of postseason ball.

"You have to be able to deal with the adrenalin," Cooper said. "Everybody gets excited. Things may be happening a little faster than normal. There's better pitching and hitting, everything takes a step forward just a little bit. The guys have to be able to handle that and gear down, and play within themselves than normal.

"The bottom line is that they are going to have to deal with everything and do the things that we've done to get to this point."

Yet Cooper is not making things complicated as the ninth-year coach broke it down to two simple facets to his squads success: hitting and pitching

"We're going to have to pitch well," Cooper said. "And we're going to have to hit the ball well as a group."

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