By Reid Bankston
After a somewhat down season in 2008, Water Valley head coach Doug Robbins knew his team had the potential to bounce back in 2009. Led by sophomore’s Josh Johnson and Drew Pratt, as well as senior Tank Hervey, the Blue Devils are now gearing up for a playoff run, with the aim of restoring the pride around Water Valley baseball.
With a 14-8 overall mark, and a 6-4 mark in Region 2-2A play, Robbins’ squad will look to upset Region 3-2A’s top seed, Leland. Water Valley open the best of three series Thursday at home, with games two, and if necessary, three at Leland. While the Blue Devils will look to best the top seeded Cubs, we will first look back to the players that helped shape a successful 2009 regular season for Water Valley baseball.
While expectations were high for the Blue Devil team this season, it was no secret that Josh Johnson would need to play a big role in any Water Valley success in 2009. Johnson, who splits time between the field and the mound, has paced the Blue Devil offense with a team leading .403 batting average, along with 17 RBI’s and 25 runs scored.
Although Johnson’s biggest impact has come at the plate this season, the sophomore has also contributed for the Water Valley pitching staff this season. Johnson tallied a 2-1 record with a 4.47 earned run average, along with 34 strikeouts in 31.3 innings pitched.
Before the season, Robbins knew he had several pitchers capable of providing quality innings for the Blue Devils. While Pratt was included in that bunch, even Robbins couldn’t have expected the sophomore to grow into the ace of the Water Valley staff.
Pratt, who isn’t the most physically imposing pitcher on the mound, has used at times pinpoint control and a cool head to keep opposing hitters off balance. With a 4-0 record, to go with a 3.84 ERA, Pratt has arguably been Water Valley’s biggest surprise this season. Pratt struck out 17 while walking only 7 in 31 innings.
Perhaps Water Valley’s best all around player; Hervey has done his part in leading the Blue Devils to the playoffs this season. Both at the plate and on the mound, the senior leader has been a terror for division opposition in 2009.
With a .361 batting average and a 3.00 ERA, it’s hard to argue against giving Hervey the overall team MVP. Hervey ranks second on the team in batting average, second in hits (26), second in runs scored (21), first in wins (4), and first in strikeouts (62). If Water Valley is to upset Leland in the first round of the playoffs, Hervey’s leadership and production will most likely be the deciding factor.