Varsity, Junior Varsity Teams Maintain Perfect Season
By Johnny Avant
WATER VALLEY – If you happened to be at Water Valley’s softball game on Friday you might or might not have noticed that the flag pole wasn’t up, the lights were not finished, there was no electricity and the parking lot still needed gravel. What everyone did notice was that Coach Shane Brown, his Lady Devils, managers, parents and fans were all smiles as Water Valley hosted their first game on the new field that has been in the planning and construction phases since the fall of 2007.
The field, which has been built entirely through generous donations from the community and hardworking volunteers, is not quite complete but looked great under a warm sunny March sky on Friday afternoon. It will be officially dedicated at a later date.
A great day got even better when the Lady Devils and the Junior Varsity kept their seasons perfect by taking both games from the visiting New Albany Lady Bulldogs.
The JV squad stepped into the spotlight on Friday and had the privilege of playing the first game on the new field. Water Valley pitcher Tyler Epes fired the first pitch of the game toward home plate. It was hit on the ground to first baseman Kelsey Neeley who scooped it up and stepped on the base for the first out of the game. It was one pitch, one out; not a bad way to start.
After that pitch, however, New Albany took control of the game and scored seven consecutive batters. It didn’t look good for the home team, especially when the Lady Devils failed to score in their half of the inning.
Down 7-0 after one inning, Epes gained her composure on the mound and retired three of four batters in the top of the second, two by strikeout. In the bottom of the second, Water Valley’s bats came alive. Epes started the inning with a double, Shyderica Folson, Callie Davis, and Kelsey Neeley added singles, and Brianna Thompson tripled. When the inning was over New Albany’s lead had been cut to one, 7-6.
The Lady Bulldogs added to their lead in the top of the third with three consecutive hits that scored two runs. The Lady Devils found themselves down three runs in the bottom of the third.
Catcher, Tonya Phillips, got things started in the bottom of the inning with a lead-off single. Maronica Campbell, Tierra Turner, and Shy Folson each added singles to cut into the New Albany lead and set the table for Brianna Thompson to drive in the winning run. The Lady Devils come-from-behind 10-9 win was the second JV game in a row to be won on the last at-bat.
After having a single, a triple, and three runs batted in during the JV game, Brianna Thompson showed she had another talent as she sang the National Anthem before the varsity game.
Haley Vance took the mound for Water Valley looking for her fourth win of the year. Vance threw strikes and the defense did their job catching two fly balls and throwing a runner out at first to keep the Lady Bulldogs off the scoreboard in the first.
In the bottom of the inning the Lady Devil offense continued to score runs just as they have been doing all season. Lead-off hitter Ashley Phillips got things started with a double and catcher Shade Epes drew a walk. Clean-up hitter Haley Vance made her first at-bat on the new field a memorable one by hitting a three-run home run over the left field fence. Water Valley added three more runs making it a 6-0 game after one inning.
The defense recorded three consecutive outs in the second inning, two ground balls fielded by shortstop Ashley Phillips and a fly ball caught by left fielder Callie Davis. The Lady Devils’ bats were quiet in the second and third inning, while New Albany picked up a run in the top of the third. Second baseman Courtney True helped keep the Lady Bulldogs off the scoreboard in the top of the fourth by cutting off two ground balls headed for the outfield and turning them into outs.
Water Valley got things going again in the bottom of the fourth after a couple of walks and a perfectly executed bunt by centerfielder Anna True that loaded the bases. A single by catcher Shade Epes and a two-out double with the bases loaded by Vance helped the Lady Devils put eight runs on the board in the inning making it 14-1.
After New Albany failed to score in the top of the fifth inning, the mercy rule came into play and the Lady Devils found themselves 7-0 on the year. Next up for Water Valley will be the Bruce Lady Trojans Friday, March 26, at Bruce. Saturday, the Lady Devils will travel to Houston for some tournament action.
The next home game for Water Valley will be on March 30 when the Charleston Lady Tigers come to town.