When a baseball team advances in the state tournament — as Darlington has — there is no such thing as an easy opponent.
Every game is a test, and Darlington has a big one coming up in its Final Four Class A-Private School game against Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy.
The Tigers will be on the road for the third-round of the tourney to take on the Chargers, who are the No. 1-ranked team in the Class A-Private School power rankings.
The best-of-three series will start with a doubleheader today at 4 p.m., with a game on Tuesday if necessary.
“Eagle’s Landing has a great offense, a solid pitching rotation, and they’re very athletic defensively,” said Kent Harrison. “They’ve really been able to out-power most of their opponents this season.”
ELCA will carry a 26-2 record — going undefeated in their region — into the matchup with Darlington.
The Chargers, who reached the quarterfinals in the state tourney last year, have also made a 4-0 run through the first two rounds of the state tourney so far, outscoring their opponents 41-6.
“That’s definitely their strength is that they’re able to run a lot of runs in a short amout of time,” said Harrison.
“We’ll just count on our pitchers, and we have countless pitchers chomping at the bit for the opportunity.”
As if all this wasn’t enough, rounding out ELCA’s batting order are a couple relatives of MLB bigshots – Jacob Heyward, brother of Jason Heyward, and Dazmon Cameron, son of Mike Cameron.
“I’ve got a pitching staff that has battled some really good offenses this year,” said Harrison. “For us, we’re going to try to work ahead and make (ELCA) hit our pitches.”
The game might be the Tigers’ toughest contest yet and will most certainly have the most on the line, as a series win means the state finals.
But on the flip side, the Tigers are no stranger to Final-Four opponents, as they’ve already beaten three teams this year which are now in the Final Four
Darlington defeated region foes the Gordon Lee Trojans and the Trion Bulldogs, who both find themselves in the Final Four in the Class A-Public School bracket.
The Tigers also beat Class A-Private School and Final-Four bound Mt. Paran in a cross-region game earlier this season, proving that they’re not in the least unfamiliar with tough opponents.
“We’re gonna have to play to our strengths,” said Harrison. “We’ve been able to battle some pretty tough teams this year, and our teams are very similar. It’ll come down to who makes the plays.
“They’re going to be solid, but we’ll rely on senior leadership and continue to play our style of baseball.”