Red Devils take momentum on the road

Published 3:00 pm Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Maplesville is playing its best baseball of the season at the right time.

The Red Devils hope to continue that trend when they visit St. Luke’s on Friday for the semifinal round of the state playoffs, the furthest the program has advanced since the 2001 season.

“We’re playing the best baseball that I’ve seen since I’ve been back here,” MHS coach Brandon Shanks said. “Our attitude is great. We’re playing together as one unit. The confidence level of our young guys is sky-high right now. They’re starting to believe.”

The Devils (17-13) defeated Fayetteville in the quarterfinal round of the playoffs. Game times for the best-of-three series at St. Luke’s (22-13) are 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. Friday, with a third game at noon on Saturday if necessary.

St. Luke’s eliminated Maplesville in the quarterfinal round last season. Shanks said both teams return most of the players off those squads.

MHS made 16 errors in two games during the losses.

“You minus those errors, and we’re right there in two great ballgames,” Shanks said. “Balls that we were booting last year, we’re making those plays right now. We’ve been solid on defense.”

Still, Shanks has told his players that they can’t assume things will continue to go their way.

“Since we’ve been in the playoffs, we haven’t faced a lot of adversity,” he said. “So they have to understand that if things don’t go our way, we’ve got to keep our heads up and battle through it and stay unified.”

This week’s series will be Maplesville’s first on the road of the 2012 playoffs.

Shanks said he thinks being out of school Friday for a weather day will benefit the team. They will leave for Mobile after school Thursday.

“We don’t have to be rushed,” he said. “We can get down there, get settled in, and we’ll have time to get mentally prepared.”

That mental preparation will surely be important.

“I think it has really sunk in on our guys now,” Shanks said. “You’re one of four teams left in it at this point.”