Entering the playoffs, you got the sense that Water Valley may be playing their best baseball of the season. A late season surge that saw the Blue Devils defeat division foes Hamilton and Eupora, as well as non-division foes, South Pontotoc and Grenada, put head coach Doug Robbins team in prime position to upset region 3-2A top seed Leland Cubs. While the Blue Devils by seed were underdogs, a battled tested Water Valley (16-8) squad wasted little time in manhandling the Cubs in a two game sweep, earning Robbins’ squad a date in the second round with Baldwyn.
Water Valley sent a resounding message to Leland in the series’ opening game, as the Blue Devils set the tone for a dominating two game stretch.
Led by senior pitching ace Tank Hervey, Water Valley cruised to an 11-0 home victory thanks in large part to a five run first inning, setting up the sweep opportunity in Leland. Hervey (5-5) gave up only two hits to the Cubs in five scoreless innings, while Drew Pratt and Walt McCullough took care of Leland at the plate.
The sophomore duo combined for six RBI’s on four hits, highlighted by a towering homerun by Pratt. Shortstop Josh Johnson added two hits, including a triple, as the Blue Devils had arguably their most efficient night at the plate, scoring 11 runs on 11 hits.
Perhaps the most telling stat of Water Valley’s dominance in game one comes in the box score, as Leland failed to keep the Blue Devils from scoring less than two runs in their four innings at the plate.
After a resounding home victory in the series opener, the Blue Devils wasted little time in reasserting their solid play at Leland. Although Pratt started for the Blue Devils, it was Shonquayle Jenkins that shut down the Cubs in relief. Jenkins allowed only one earned run in four crucial innings, leading the Blue Devils to a 6-3 series clinching road win.
Water Valley saw their early 2-0 lead cancelled out by a two run Leland third, but the Blue Devils added one in the fourth and three in the fifth to close the Cubs out. Pratt, who struggled slightly on the mound, homered for the second straight game, as well as driving in three Blue Devil runs. Water Valley managed eight hits on the afternoon, while Johnson, McCullough, and sophomore catcher J.D. Fondon reached base safely a combined nine times.
The Blue Devils return to action Thursday in Baldwyn.