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Desire can#039;t be taught or coached

When it comes to the sports world there are many ways for a coach to prepare his team for an upcoming opponent.

But there is one thing that all the preparation in the world cannot solve and that's determination.

Case in point would be the Fort Dale Academy baseball team.

Four years ago the Eagles struggled through a 1-27 season with a freshman-ladden team.

Those freshmen managed to battle through three straight losing seasons at Fort Dale Academy until this year.

The Eagles now stand as the eighth-ranked team in the latest Alabama Sports Writers AISA poll, have their first winning season at hand since 2000 and are in the playoffs for the first time since 2000.

So what was the magical formula that coach Clint Lowery concocted to turn this team around?

Absolutely nothing.

The winning formula is desire mixed with confidence among these young men.

"They aren't satisfied with just winning," Lowery said in an earlier interview

with the Advocate. "They aren't just satisfied with just making it to the playoffs; our guys expect to advance to the state semifinals."

That desire has spread throughout this team. Because of that desire, Fort Dale will play host to the first round of the playoffs next week as the Class AAA, Area 2 West champions.

"With all the work we have put in Š we expect more of ourselves and to go all the way," senior second baseman Eric Hicks said.

That confidence and determination wasn't there three years ago, Lowery said.

"There were many times when our guys were down two strikes in the count at the plate, they would just give up the out," he said. "I can't tell you how many clutch hits we've had when one of our guys were down 0-2."

It's obvious there is a no-quit attitude with this club.

In Game 1 of the Eagles' doubleheader at Hooper Academy on Saturday, Fort Dale scored at least five of its 11 runs with two out.

One of the Eagles' 10 home runs on the season came with two out when Brady Newton crushed a Colts pitch sending it over the right-field fence in the top of the fourth inning.

Fort Dale doesn't just hope to win a game anymore. Every player on this team expects to win.

After seeing this team play just one game you can tell this is a confident team.

Confidence is good, but being overconfident can be detrimental.

This is not an overconfident

team because that 1-27 season is still fresh in more than half of this team's minds.

"We carry that experience with us every day," said senior catcher Cory Ausderau.

You can't coach confidence or determination. And it's certainly hard to beat. Just ask those teams which have fallen to Fort Dale Academy during the regular season.

Kevin Taylor is sports editor of The Greenville Advocate. You can e-mail him at kevin.taylor@greenvilleadvocate.com or call (334) 382-3111 ext. 122.