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Alcovy baseball focuses on team
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Casey Bates thought a two-day rest would help his baseball team during Alcovy's winter break this past week.

His team, however, appreciated the sentiment, but came out to the field to work, nonetheless.

The 2012 Alcovy baseball team has come together as a group, working for each other and as a team. It's something the Tigers' coach has noticed.

"We've got a great group of kids, who all get a long and play together," Bates said. "They all play together as a team and that makes it a lot easier as a coaching staff."

The Tigers finished 2011 with a 12-14 record and lost to Whitewater, the Class AAAA runner-up, in the region playoffs, two games to one. Two years ago, in 2010, Alcovy was 27-6 and made it all the way to the Elite Eight.

Bates feels the 2010 version of the Tigers is a little more comparable to the current team because of its camaraderie.

"That's what's going to be different in this year's team," Bates said. "Something good is going to happen to them because they want to do more.

"That's what the team did two years ago. They played together, got along as a group and played together as a team."

The team concept shows up in Alcovy's 2012 lineup, where the offensive firepower stretches throughout the nine batters.

It starts with sophomore Dalton Regan at the leadoff spot, followed by senior, and Newton transfer, Dusty Daniels. Senior Bowen Braswell moves up from his spot in last season's lineup to No. 3, followed by junior Jake Jones. Seniors Austin Fuller and Darius Hill, along with junior Josh Beddington and seniors Daniel Regan and Mike Zelinski round out the lineup.

"Top to bottom it's probably the most balanced lineup we've ever had," Bates said. "In the past we had a lot of strong hitters in the beginning, and the bottom part wasn't as strong. But this year the top and bottom are more balanced than they have ever been."

The lineup exploded in the Tigers' opener, as Alcovy beat Salem 14-4, before cooling down in an 8-4 loss to Eastside. But the early offensive output shows Bates his team will be able to score in 2012.

"It's one of those things if batters do what we're supposed to do we should be able to score runs with any team," Bates said. "We've been doing a good job hitting the ball but we have to o a good job hitting with runners in scoring position."

The Tigers will push runners across the plate with singles and doubles due to the void of pure home run hitters in their lineup.

If the team isn't hitting well it will look to its rotation to keep it in games.

Jones, Regan, Fuller and Hill will be the Tigers' main starters with Braswell and Daniels out of the bullpen.

Alcovy is looking to use its team unity and mixture of deep lineup and rotation to get back into the state playoffs, but to do so will have to go through a tough region.

"In our region making the state playoffs is a chore," Bates said. "We have 14 teams in our region and of the 14 teams about nine of them made the playoffs the last four years. Our region is probably one of he toughest in the state top to bottom."