By Reid Bankston
GRENADA – Former Major League manager Tommy Lasorda once said, “There are three types of baseball players: those who make it happen, those who watch it happen, and those who wonder what happens.” As the post season nears, and pressure mounts, Water Valley coach Doug Robbins looks to have a team full of Blue Devils that want to make it happen.
With Water Valley (12-7, 4-4) hanging on to the last playoff spot in the division, the Blue Devils, led by a hitting explosion throughout the lineup, have now won four of their last five, with two crucial division matchups against Hatley and Ackerman this week. Although mounting a division charge is the top priority for Robbins, Water Valley was forced to shift their focus to two out-of-division foes over the weekend.
Water Valley vs. Grenada
Water Valley traveled to 5A foe Grenada looking to build some offensive momentum, and the Blue Devils did just that, belting out 17 hits en route to a 14-9 victory over the Chargers. Drew Pratt, Water Valley’s ace on the mound this season, picked up another solid win, giving up four earned runs in four innings. Water Valley was paced at the plate by Pratt, senior outfielder Tank Hervey, and sophomore short stop Josh Johnson. Johnson and Hervey, who will need to be offensive catalysts for Water Valley in the post season, combined for six Blue Devil runs, while Pratt helped his own cause with three RBI’s, including a fifth inning homerun. Water Valley has fared rather well against schools from larger classifications this season, notching a 2-2 record, both losses coming against Oxford. The Blue Devils will once again test themselves against a 5A opponent this weekend, this time against one of the classification’s best, South Panola. The Tigers, led by Mississippi State signee Ethan Bright and arguably the state’s best pro prospect David Renfroe, an Ole Miss signee, should be Water Valley’s toughest test this season.
Water Valley vs. South Pontotoc
Water Valley continued their offensive hot streak against future division foe South Pontotoc in Saturday’s nightcap. Although a victory looked unlikely after the Blue Devils fell behind 10-4, Water Valley clawed their way back, scoring 11 unanswered runs on their way to a 15-10 victory. Senior Tank Hervey shutdown the Cougars in the final three innings, recording four strikeouts and no earned runs, fueling the Water Valley comeback with a dominating pitching performance.
Sophomore duo Josh Johnson and J.D. Fondon reached base safely in each of their plate appearances, and combined for six runs scored and five RBI’s. Fondon, who keeps finding ways to get on base, and providing strong play for the Blue Devils behind the plate, becoming one of the surprises of the season for Robbins’ bunch.