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Baseball: Cougars' road to state will go through Tigertown

One of the highlights of reaching the state baseball tournament is the opportunity to play at one of the Grapefruit League spring training sites across the state.

Durant's baseball team will have the same chance one round earlier. The Cougars will play their Class 5A region final against Lakeland at Lakeland's Joker Marchant Stadium, spring home of the Detroit Tigers, on Friday at 7 p.m.

Lakeland usually plays home games at historic Henley Field, but the facility's other tenant, Florida Southern College, already has a game scheduled for Friday.

Cougars coach Butch Valdes said his players have assignments on how to adapt to the major-league dimensions of Joker Marchant.

In other site addendums, Jesuit will play its 4A region final vs. Estero at Swanson Stadium on the campus of Florida Gulf Coast University. Brooks-DeBartolo, which does not have a home field, will play in its first region final vs. Shorecrest Friday at Freedom High in New Tampa.

Teams that win Friday will advance to the state tournament, which will be held in Port St. Lucie at Digital Domain Park, the spring home of the New York Mets, for the third straight season.

-- EDUARDO A. ENCINA (eencina@sptimes.com)

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