By Reid Bankston
After falling flat in a 10-2 division opening loss to the Bruce, the Water Valley Blue Devils needed a response. And respond they have, as Coach Doug Robbins team (7-2 overall, 2-1 division) has won their last four, including back to back wins over division foes Eupora and the defending North-Half Champion Hamilton Lions. Although the Blue Devils couldn’t get their bats or gloves going against Bruce, committing nine errors against the Trojans, Robbins’ bunch has played their best baseball of the season in recent games. Water Valley has scored 40 runs in their four game winning streak, while allowing only 12.
Water Valley vs. Eupora
The Blue Devils came out strong against a supremely overmatched Eagle squad, securing an 11-1 victory in only five innings, erasing all memories of the Bruce debacle. Drew Pratt (2-0) was efficient on the mound, giving up only one run on five hits. At the plate, Chris Conard belted his first career homerun to cap off a team leading three RBI performance. Catcher J.D. Fondon continues to find a way to get on base, as the sophomore leads the team in on base percentage. Fondon reached base against the Eagles three times, scoring each time.
Water Valley vs. Hamilton
After a confidence boosting win against Eupora, the Blue Devils faced their toughest test of the season against preseason division favorite Hamilton. The Lions won back to back North-Half Championships in 2007 and 2008, and wasted no time showing the why against Water Valley. Hamilton raced out to a 4-0 lead after two innings, before senior Tank Hervey (2-2) came in to stop the bleeding. The Water Valley bats went to work shortly thereafter, as the Blue Devils looked to complete an improbable comeback. Josh Johnson and Fondon reached base a combined seven times, sparking the Water Valley comeback, while Hervey shut the door on the lions, giving the Blue Devils a gutsy 5-4 win.
Water Valley vs. Independence double header
As it was in the first meetings between these two clubs, Water Valley scored two dominating victories over the Independence Wildcats to push their current winning streak to four over the weekend. In game one, Shonquayle Jenkins (2-0) pitched six shutout innings, pacing the Blue Devils to a 9-2 victory. Freshman infielder Taylor King introduced himself to the stat sheet in a big way, securing his first two hits of the season, both homeruns.
As he did in the season’s first meeting, Hervey haunted the Wildcats again, adding to King’s homeruns with one of his own. In game two, the Wildcats again struggled to keep the Water Valley bats quiet, as the Blue Devils exploded at the plate en route to a 15-5 six inning victory. Senior Brandon Brooks (1-0) got plenty of run support in his first victory of the year, as early Water Valley offensive fireworks made the end result a mere formality. Fondon, usually known for taking it one base at a time, capped off a dominating double header performance with a homerun.