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Derrick Mahone/Douglas County Sentinel Alexander coach Zack Graham says his team has to be mentally ready for the best-of-three series with Lee County today in the Class AAAAAA playoffs.

Alexander is hoping home field advantage will hold true as the Cougars attempt to punch a ticket to the Class AAAAAA Elite Eight.

The Cougars host visiting Lee County today in the doubleheader to start a best-of-three series in the second round of the playoffs. The winner advances to next week’s Elite Eight Tournament in Columbus where a state champion will be crowned.

“It is right here in front of us,” Cougars coach Zack Graham said. “I feel the team is prepared. We just have to go out there and play and hope some of the bounces go our way.”

This is Graham’s sixth season at the helm, and the Cougars have made it to the second round three times. The school has never advanced to the Elite Eight, according to Graham.

Last week, Alexander swept Alpharetta in the first round as Lee County went three games with Greenbrier. The Trojans come into today’s 5 p.m. game with a 23-8 record, including 9-2 on the road.

Lee County has won five of their last six games coming into the contest.

“They will be a tough team to face,” Graham said. “They have been here before so they know what to expect. From the scouting report they have a solid pitcher and have a good defense behind here.”

Graham is hoping that playing at home will be an added advantage for his team. Lee County will make the three hour trek to Douglasville for the series.

Last week, the team won at Greenbrier after dropping the first game. The Trojans are road tested in the playoffs.

“We know the landscape of the field, and we are very familiar with it,” Graham said. “One of the bonuses of winning a region championship is being able to play at home the first two rounds. They call it home field advantage for a reason, and we hope it helps.”

As a team, Lee County is hitting .289 and have scored 200 runs and have 28 home runs on the season. Senior Ally Clegg leads the Trojans with a .421 average and 16 homers with 47 RBI and 38 runs scored.

Freshman Abby Hughes has a .349 batting average with 15 RBI and five home runs.

Hughes is also the team’s top pitcher with 117 2/3 innings pitch with 61 strikeouts and a 1.55 ERA.

“Everybody has to be mentally ready to play,” Graham said. “Your concern is that you be ready to play 14 innings in one day. You have to be mentally strong all the time and you can’t afford to take any innings off.”

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