When Harlem High School baseball coach Jimmie Lewis saw his team play in its first four games of the year, the 2006 season didn't look promising.
"We got beat pretty bad and couldn't hit the ball," Lewis said. "It didn't look good."
The Bulldogs lost the games by at least 10 runs each. Those teams - Greenbrier, Evans, Lakeside and Westside high schools - are all state tournament-caliber teams.
After turning around the season, Harlem is state tournament bound, too.
"We've probably overachieved a little, but hey, let's over-achieve some more," Lewis said as his Bulldogs prepared for their state tournament first-round game during a practice Wednesday.
Harlem earned the state tournament bid after finishing the regular season as the best team in Region 3-AAA North. The Bulldogs fell to South Effingham, the top team in Region 3-AAA South, in the region title game.
Harlem still has a guaranteed home game in the first round of the state tournament.
Lewis said that after a rocky start to the season, this Bulldog team has found its strength at the plate.
"We've been pleased with the way we're hitting. We're hitting .309 as a team," Lewis said. "Defense is the main concern. We've got to play defense."
Defense didn't help in Harlem's 10-3 loss to South Effingham in the region title game. The Bulldogs led 3-2 going into the fifth inning but gave up the lead and a potential No. 1 seed in the state tournament by allowing seven South Effingham runs.
The Bulldogs will enter the state tournament as a No. 2 seed.
Harlem begins state tournament play with a best-of-three home series against Peach County next weekend. Lewis said Bulldog ace Mike Sanders will be on the mound for the first game.
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