Last year, Alcovy made strides to claim its first finish over .500 since the 2012 season.
This year, The Tigers have their eyes on much more than just a winning record.
In their first season under head coach Kareem Hayes, the Tigers saw a 10-game improvement from the 2021-22 stretch which netted them the No. 3 seed in the playoffs for Region 3-AAAAAA.The third place region berth was the best finish the Tigers have had since the 2015 season.
The 2024 Tigers took to the diamond for the first time as a team on Feb. 7 in an 8-7 scrimmage victory against Stockbridge. First baseman Parker Gassman slammed a home-run in the win. Coach Hayes was pleased with the team's performance in the scrimmage.
“We played extremely well, not having much time to prepare with the weather and whatnot,” Hayes said. “But we’re just making sure these guys know the little things. Make sure we’re focusing on the little things, hitting-wise, fielding and pitching”
Captain Cooper Duncan, who led Alcovy with 23 RBIs, emphasized that the team had a lot to improve upon throughout the season.
However, the junior left no doubt about the Tigers’ goals for the 2024 season.
“First off, we’re looking for a region championship,” Duncan said. “Coming off a third-place finish is a little disappointing, but as a team, we want to get to the region, play our game and just go from there and get past the first round.”
Duncan is not the only pitcher looking to make big strides this season.
Sophomore Chris Guillory was selected to participate in the MLB Dream Series, where over 80 players from across the country learn from former big-league stars.
“He’s grown so much,” Hayes said. “Just from being a freshman last year to a sophomore now, he's grown so much. Maturity level, he's grown. Baseball-wise, learning from the different major league guys has definitely helped his game and his knowledge of the game.”
To claim the region title, the Tigers have to go through the defending champion War Eagles.
Last year, Woodward Academy blazed through the region with an undefeated 14-0 region record. Alcovy mustered just one run in both games of the series, but will likely need more when the teams clash on March 18 and 20.
Behind Woodward, Forest Park stands between the Tigers and first place in the region. The schools split the series last year with Alcovy taking home the last head-to-head. Alcovy will head to face the Panthers on March 27, and play host to them two days later on March 29.
Fellow captain Reece Payne will suit up for one final season in a Tiger uniform.
The slugger batted .450 as a junior and crossed the plate 32 times, the most on the team. Payne said that he has learned a few lessons throughout his first three seasons.
“I learned that you’re not going to win every game,” Payne said. “I learned that at the end of the day, you just have to stay positive. Don’t worry about the little things.”
Alcovy’s quest to reach the top of the region will begin on March 4 against Mundy’s Mill.
Coach Hayes confirmed the team’s goal was to win the region championship, but his goal as a coach was something far different.
“Just making sure these guys are better men at the end of the day,” Hayes said. “Making sure they’re better human beings and understanding the game of baseball and loving the game of baseball.”