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Blue Devils Sweep Independence, Advance In Playoffs

Drew Pratt tags out an Independence runner trying to steal second base in the first inning of the first game. – Photo by Judy Robbins

Right fielder Chris Conard puts on the brakes as center fielder Walt McCullough calls him off of a long fly ball. McCullough fell, rolled over, and held onto the ball. (See photos, left) – Photos by Judy Robbins

By  Reid Bankston
Sports Reporter

WATER VALLEY – For the second time in consecutive years, head coach Doug Robbins and his Water Valley Blue Devils are making some noise in the playoffs.

    With a two game sweep of Independence in the first round, Water Valley (18-6) will now face Corinth in another best of three series.

  The Blue Devils gutted out a 5-3 win in game one against the Wildcats, thanks to an offensive surge in the late innings.  

    Water Valley was kept off the scoreboard for the first three innings, but added one in the fourth and fifth to tie the game up at 2-2, before adding two in the sixth and one in the seventh to cap off a crucial road victory.

    Chris Conard, Drew Pratt, and Taylor King were the stars at the plate for the Blue Devils in the series opener, combining for seven of the team’s ten hits.  John Michael Grimmett also made a big impact, driving in two crucial runs.  

    Senior Josh Johnson recorded the victory on the mound, while Walt McCullough was credited with the save.

    Returning home for game two, Water Valley was determined to leave no doubt in advancing to the second round. Thanks to strong pitching and timely hitting, that goal was achieved.

    Water Valley jumped out to a 6-0 lead after just two innings, before tacking on four more runs in the fifth.  Independence added four runs of their own, but they proved to be merely a consolation prize, as Water Valley cruised to a 10-4 win and a series sweep.  

     Water Valley again had an impressive day at the plate, accounting for 10 hits and eight RBIs.  Catcher J.D. Fondon was perfect from the plate with hits in all three of his  appearances, including a homerun and five RBIs.  Johnson and Pratt added two hits a piece, while Cole Camp added a triple.

    Senior Shanquayle Jenkins recorded the win on the mound, while McCullough made his second appearance of the series in relief.

     Water Valley will now travel for game one of the series against the winner of Corinth and Riverside this Friday.

    At presstime Tuesday, Corinth was looking for a second win against Riverside to clinch the series.

    “We need to have a good week of practice,” Coach Doug Robbins reported as his squad prepares for the weekend match-up.

    If Corinth wins the series, this will be the first time in several years since Water Valley has faced the team.

    “Corinth is a well-rounded team coming from a tough region,” Robbins added. “They are going to be tough.”

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