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Special Photo/Reginald Davis Alexander coach Chris Brown says he will learn a lot about his team in the first two games of the season against Smiths Station and Harris County.

Alexander coach Chris Brown is hoping to end the season like the Cougars will start it on Saturday morning.

The Cougars will play a doubleheader against defending Alabama large-school champion Smiths Station and play a nightcap against Harris County.

Because the state playoffs are a doubleheader format in the opening game of each series, Brown thinks the experience can be valuable to his team.

“If you are ending your season against a good team in a doubleheader format that means you have made the playoffs,” Brown said. “We are using this experience to help prepare us for what we hope will be a good season.”

A third seed last season, the Cougars reached the second round of the Class AAAAA playoffs before losing at home to South Effingham in 2-1 in the best-of-three series.

Smiths Stations won the Class AAAAAAA championship last season and return several starters. Harris County, which will host the doubleheader games, lost in the first round of the Class AAAAA playoffs to Jones County.

“We are definitely excited about this doubleheader game against two great opponents,” Brown said. “You will have to use your entire bench in a series like this, and this will help down the road.”

Senior C.J. Fehribach will likely get the start and be counted on to help solidify the pitching staff.

“I think we can have a really good year,” Fehribach said. “It is sort of sad with this being my senior year. It will be the last time playing in many of these ballparks. I’m looking forward to getting it started on Saturday against some quality teams.”

Smiths Station will be looking to put last year’s title behind them and concentrate on the new season. This will also be its season opener with the 11 a.m. game.

The words "state championship," or any variation of the two, are banned from the Smiths Station’s clubhouse this season.

“We’ve decided not to talk about last year," Smiths Station coach Mike Ferry told the Columbus Enquirer. "We've decided not to say those words. That was last year. Winning last year was great and something they'll never forget, but this is a new year and just because you did that last year doesn't mean we're changing our expectations or anything. We already set them high to begin with.”

Fehribach, who has committed to West Georgia Tech, said opening against both teams will only make them better down the road.

“The goal is to win, but I’m a firm believer that you play to your competition,” he said. “If we win, that will be great. If we lose, I know we are going to play tough and that will help us. We have an opportunity to see what we are made of this weekend.”

The Cougars defeated McEachern 5-2 last week at home in a scrimmage game. Brown said he was thoroughly pleased with the pitching staff, which was one of the team’s question mark this season.

“Seeing the way we pitched was definitely encouraging,” Brown said. “The pitching is what stood out the most in the scrimmage.”

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