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Important area matchup looms large for Luverne

Now that spring break is over, it’s time for the Luverne Tigers to get down to business.

This week, they will face area foe Straughn in a showdown that has playoff implications, even this early in the season.

“This is one of those games that we’ve had circled on the schedule since we got it,” said head coach Andre Parks. “This will go a long to way toward determining who is at home in the playoffs and who will host a game.”

Both teams come into the contest ranked in the ASWA polls with Straughn at No. 3 and Luverne at No. 6.

“We’re looking for a big crowd since this is such a big game for us,” Parks said. “We’ll also have to start hitting better. Right now we’re not hitting well, and Straughn’s strength is their pitching staff.”

Despite a few struggles at the plate, the Tigers were able to pull out a 7-3 win over Jeff Davis at Patterson Field in Montgomery on Monday.

Parks said the venue was an inspiration for the team.

“I told the guys that if we reach our goal, we’ll be going back there to play in the state championship game,” he said.

Luverne took a 3-0 lead as Adam Foster held Jeff Davis scoreless through four innings, but then the Volunteers tied it up.

The Tigers responded by scoring a run in the sixth inning and three in the seventh to put it out of reach.

Foster also went 2-3 at the plate on the day.

Last week, Luverne traveled to Niceville, Fla. to play in a spring break tournament, and they came away with a 2-2 record.

The Tigers opened up with an 8-2 win over Madison County.

“We had a pretty solid game with guys getting on base and solid defense, and I feel like that may have been our best game that we played down there,” Parks said. “Monterio May was lights-out.”

May pitched a full seven innings, striking out 12 and only giving up three hits.

He also got it done from the plate as he reached base four times, and had a triple, a double and two runs scored.

Corey Hale also went 2-4.

Luverne followed that up the next day with a 4-3 loss to Ardmore.

“We controlled the game 3-1 in the inning, but then we made some errors in the sixth and they closed us out late,” Parks said. “We got guys on base, but we just couldn’t get them in.”

The Tigers blasted Tanner 14-3 in the third game of the tournament, which came right after the heartbreaking loss to Ardmore.

“Everybody contributed in that game,” Parks said. “Zane Sexton was outstanding on the mound as our winning pitcher.”

Luverne wrapped up the tournament with a 13-10 loss to Houston Academy, in which the Tigers trailed 13-6 in the seventh inning.

“We fought and clawed back into the game,” Parks said.

At one point, Luverne was down 13-10 with the bases loaded, but were unable to capitalize on the opportunity.

“We gave up six runs in the seventh inning because of mental mistakes, but to come back and give ourselves a chance to win, I think that says a lot about our team,” Parks said.

Thursday’s big area showdown against Straughn is scheduled for 5 p.m. in Luverne.