By Reid Bankston
WATER VALLEY – After struggling with inconsistency on the mound and in the field, the Water Valley Blue Devils look to be rounding into form in time for crucial division matchups.
Since struggling in a blowout loss at Lafayette, Water Valley has come alive in all aspects of the game, winning three straight games over Aberdeen, South Pontotoc, and Bruce by a combined score of 45-5. The Blue Devils boost in production comes just in time, as two pivotal division games against Mooreville loom in the next week.
Water Valley’s (12-7 overall, 5-2 division) current three game winning streak began with a blowout 17-0 victory over Aberdeen. Freshman Cody Greer dialed up a complete game two hitter, striking out six Bulldog batters while only surrendering two hits in the three inning encounter.
At the plate, Water Valley saw eight different batters record hits, including two homeruns from Drew Pratt and J.D. Fondon. The Blue Devils combined for 16 RBIs while only striking out once. Austin Hodge led Water Valley with two hits and three RBIs, while Fondon also contributed three RBIs. Freshman Dalvin Caldwell also tacked on two RBIs of his own, earning valuable playing time in the blowout win.
Water Valley continued to overwhelm opponents with another blowout victory over division opponent South Pontotoc.
Pratt turned in one of his most impressive performances as a Blue Devil, earning the complete game victory, striking out four cougar batters while only allowing four hits and two earned runs. The complete game victory brings Pratt’s record to 4-1 on the season.
Like in their decisive win over Aberdeen, Water Valley got contributions from several people at the plate, as seven Blue Devils recorded base hits in the 13-2 victory.
Pratt, Fondon, Taylor King, and Chris Conard combined for nine of Water Valley’s 12 hits, and 10 of the Blue Devils 11 RBIs. Pratt and Fondon hit homeruns for consecutive games, while King also got in on the act, hitting his seventh homerun on the season.
South Pontotoc started the game brightly, scoring a run in the top of the first inning, but a five run fourth inning and a four run fifth inning put the game out of reach for the Cougars, and sent Water Valley on their way to another impressive home victory.
Water Valley wrapped up their three game home stand with a 15-3 victory over local rival Bruce. The Blue Devils busted the game open with a five run second inning and an eight run fourth inning, as Water Valley continues to produce at the plate.
On the mound, King earned the complete victory, striking out two Trojan batters while surrendering six hits. King met little opposition from Bruce until a three run fifth inning, although the game had been decided at that point.
Although King’s im-provement on the mound was the biggest story in the Bruce victory, a subplot that is sure to make head coach Kari Bridges happy is the number of people producing for the Blue Devils offensively.
Nine Water Valley batters recorded hits against Bruce, with Walt McCullough and John Michael Grimmett leading the way with five combined hits and seven RBIs. As a team, Water Valley recorded 12 hits and 14 RBIs. Hodge and Pratt had the game’s only doubles, while King added another homerun to his season’s tally.
Water Valley will need to continue their hot hitting, as their two games against division leading Mooreville (15-7, 7-0) will go a long way towards deciding the division race, and both team’s playoff destinations.
Mooreville and Winona will have squared off before the Blue Devils take on the Troopers, although a score was not available at press time. Although Winona could help Water Valley by beating Mooreville, the Blue Devils will still almost certainly have to sweep Mooreville and avoid a slip up against South Pontotoc if they are to win the division crown.