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March 17, 2014

Panthers return home, face Windsor tonight

TIFTON — After a long weekend across state lines, the Tiftarea Academy Panthers will be back at home tonight at 6:30. Macon's Windsor Academy Knights are in town and the home team is eager to add another win to the record.

Depending on how the weather turns out, head coach Brad Porter has pegged Bo Vickers to be the starter.

Porter and crew's weekend bus ride took them all the way to Phenix City, Ala., for the Border War Invitational, where they faced off against four schools from that state. Out of those games, they posted a win against Lee-Scott Academy, but fell to the other three.

Those included a 4-2 loss to Glenwood, who he said were defending state champions, an 11-7 loss to Macon-East Montgomery and a 3-2 extra inning affair against Hooper Academy.

Despite the record, he feels confident.

"We're definitely taking it as a learning experience. We dealt with adversity extremely well."

Porter certainly did not mind the location. "We got to play in some beautiful facilities," he said of Golden Park.

He may have made a discovery along the way. Cade Marlowe was pressed into mound work because of several absences.

"Seven innings of good baseball," he said.

Marlowe has been one of the men with a hot stick lately. He said he has also had good games out of Thomas Spurlin and Noah McMinn. McMinn has been moved to the leadoff spot and has played a variety of positions, including spots on the infield, catching and pitching.

Porter also had some brief updates about three members of last year's squad who are now working their trade in college.

Dustin McAlpin inked with Indian River State College. "He's doing well." National Junior College Athletic Association stats have him appearing in eight games so far.

ABAC is home to two former Panthers, Jake Ball and Eric Lee. He said he believes Ball will be redshirted this season. Lee has been pitching regularly and has picked up a win and a save for the Stallions.

"He's a quality young man," he said. "He's giving 120 percent."

He has not had the opportunity to see Lee in game action yet, but has had a few sessions with him. Through that, he is aware that Lee has changed his delivery motion to a sidearm style.

After tonight's game, the Panthers will be at Sherwood Christian Thursday and home against Westwood School Friday at 6:30 p.m. They are also prepping up for another road experience, one to Tallahassee, Fla., starting April 2 to play three schools from the Sunshine State.

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Jensen Rainey (left) and Josie Arant will both be participating in the U.S. Kids Golf World Championship next week in North Carolina.

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