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Blue Devils Secure Third Place In Division Play

Taylor King slides in safe at home in last Saturday’s game at Batesville against South Panola. – Photo by Claudia Anthony

Reid Bankston
Sports Reporter

    Heading into their division matchup with the South Pontotoc Cougars, the Water Valley Blue Devils were clinging to the slimmest of hopes in the division title race.

    After falling to South Pontotoc (5-19 overall, 2-6 division) 8-7 last Tuesday, those slim hopes are now dashed, as the division is now a two horse race between the Mooreville Troopers and the Winona Tigers, who both sport 7-1 records within the division.  The one run loss against the Cougars marks Water Valley’s (12-9, 5-3) sixth loss of the season by three runs or less.

    Water Valley fell victim to a slow start against South Pontotoc, as the Cougars scored four runs in the bottom of the first, and later added one in the bottom of the third and three in the bottom of the fourth.

    The Blue Devils attempted to provide another spirited comeback, adding two runs in the top of the fourth and fifth inning, as well as three in the top of the six, but Water Valley could not get the tying run across, as South Pontotoc held on to the upset win.

    Taylor King, John Michael Grimmett, and J.D. Fondon added three hits each for the Blue Devils, including a homerun from King, who leads the team with eight on the season. Water Valley as a team combined for 11 hits and seven RBIs.  South Pontotoc pitcher Dusty Foster struck out eight Blue Devil batters in his complete game win.

    The Blue Devil pitching staff only allowed nine Cougar hits and three RBIs while only walking two batters, but again errors proved costly for Water Valley. A two run homerun from South Pontotoc’s Craig Kitchens was the offensive highlight for the Cougars.

    The loss to South Pontotoc will be especially disappointing considering the Blue Devils destroyed the Cougars four days earlier at home.  South Pontotoc’s lone other division win came at the end of March against Nettleton.

    After falling to South Pontotoc, the Blue Devils traveled to Batesville to take on the South Panola Tigers (16-7, 4-4).  The Blue Devils have enjoyed decent success against teams from larger classifications this season, recording a victory over Oxford in March, and Water Valley raced out to a big lead in this encounter.

    Scoring eight runs in the first two frames while holding the Tigers too little success at the plate offered Water Valley a platform to record an impressive out of division victory.  However, South Panola came storming back with the help of Water Valley, scoring 10 runs in the last three innings, including four in the bottom of the seventh, to secure the 10-9 victory.

    Water Valley again performed admirably recording nine hits while driving in six runs, but problems on the mound proved to be the Blue Devils undoing.  The Tiger’s only recorded five RBIs and 11 hits, but the Water Valley pitching staff surrendered seven walks to South Panola batters.  Tiger pitching didn’t fare much better, as they walked nine Blue Devil batters, but South Panola was able to keep Water Valley quiet when it mattered most, as they put together their late inning surge.

    Water Valley will look to bounce back from back to back losses against division foe and state championship contender Mooreville (15-8-1, 7-1) tonight at home.  The Troopers are currently tied for the division lead with Winona, while Water Valley has secured third place in the division.

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