E.A. Sports Today

Just a little short

Pleasant Valley eliminated in Class 3A softball finals by Locust Fork in the third of its three one-run games

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

MONTGOMERY — The Pleasant Valley softball team came to the state tournament for the first time since 2005 on a mission. When the day at Lagoon Park was over, the Lady Raiders just came up a little short.

The Lady Raiders were eliminated from the Class 3A tournament Wednesday in a 6-5 loss to Locust Fork. It was the third of three one-run games the Lady Raiders played on the day that covered the gamut of emotions.

Their first game of the day was a gut-wrenching 7-6 loss to Gordo in 10 innings. They bounced back from that to hold off Wicksburg 6-5 to stay alive.

They had leads in all three games — 4-0, 5-4 and 6-5 against Gordo, 6-0 against Wicksburg and 4-3 in the sixth inning against Locust Fork.

“I’ve said this before — I’m just proud of my kids,” PV coach David Bryant said. “They’ve got huge hearts, they never quit. They did everything a coach could ask. They left it all on the field. They played as one today.

“A lot of teams are just happy to be here. We could have been like that, but this bunch they weren’t just happy to be here. They came on a mission, with a purpose to try to win this thing. We came up a little short, but deep in my heart I know that they were trying their best to win it.”

The Lady Raiders (30-25-1) fell behind Locust Fork in the first inning, but rallied to take the lead with three runs in the fifth. Mac Parris, who may have ridden the biggest emotional rollercoaster of any PV player, drove in the first run of the inning with an RBI triple. Kara Perry followed her with a game-tying RBI double and Mikayla Kendrick followed that with the go-ahead RBI single.

Parris went 5-for-13 in the tournament with a triple, homer and five RBIs. Perry was 6-for-12 with three RBIs. And Kendrick was 5-for-9 with a homer and two RBIs.

At that point it looked as if the Lady Raiders were headed for an elimination-game rematch with Gordo, but the Lady Hornets answered in the sixth when it batted around and scored three runs to take the lead for good.

Kendrick homered to give PV life in the seventh, but the Lady Raiders couldn’t get the tying run across.

“We’ve been down before, we’ve been up before,” Bryant said. “I just told them don’t stop chopping, don’t stop believing, give yourself a chance – and they did.

“I was praying over there for another blessing like we had last week (when they won the regional losers bracket with a seventh-inning rally). It would have been nice at the end of the day tomorrow to carry home a red or a blue trophy … but I’m a very happy coach because I know my girls played their hearts out and that’s all you can ask.”

Gordo 7, Pleasant Valley 6: Gordo, a team that hadn’t been here in 16 years, broke the Lady Raiders’ heart when it scored a run with two outs in the bottom of the tenth.

The Lady Raiders led three times in the game – 4-0 through four innings, 5-4 in seventh on Mac Parris’ leadoff home run and 6-5 in the ninth on Taylor Williams’ RBI single.

They had the final out in their hands in the bottom of the seventh, but Parris threw wildly to first allowing the tying run to score. The Greenwave (41-20) tied it in the bottom of the ninth on Brooke Perrigin’s RBI single and won it in the 10th when Taylor Clegg ripped a shot off Parris’ glove.

“There was just a lot of emotions in that game,” Parris said, “a lot of ups and downs.”

Kaylee Quimby started the winning rally with a slap single to short. A one-out sacrifice moved to her second and she was held at third on Briana Driver’s single to deep short. Clegg followed with her liner that hit Parris in the hands but was too hot to handle.

“It’s tough to lose one like that,” Bryant said.

Kendrick saved the Lady Raiders in the ninth when she cut down Chloe Harville at the plate for an inning-ending double play.

The Lady Raiders scored two in the first and two in the fourth, applying pressure in both innings by taking the extra base. It wasn’t unusual to see their runners going from first to third on a bunt or infield single.

But they also missed some opportunities to add to their lead, too. They had runners at second and third with one out in the first and third innings (after they scored), but couldn’t get them home.

Gordo, meanwhile, put the leadoff runner on and got her home in three of the four innings it scored, including the seventh and the tenth.

Pleasant Valley 6, Wicksburg 5: The Lady Raiders bounced back, just as Bryant expected, but it wasn’t without drama.

They carried a 6-0 lead into the bottom of the seventh then had to hold on through two wind-blown multi-run homers. Emily Boin hit a three-run homer to cut PV’s lead in half and Kristen Eckman hit a two-run blast with two outs to ramp up the drama.

PV jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first. Kara Perry and Mikayla Kendrick both singled runs home and a third run scored when Taylor Williams’ grounder rolled up the shortstop’s arm. The Lady Raiders added single runs in the third, fifth and sixth.

“I expected our team to bounce because we’re not going home unless we play bad,” Perry said. “If we don’t play to the best of our abilities we know we’re going to go home.”

Perry went 3-for-3 with a walk in the game. She was 5-for-8 in the first two games and had reached base five straight times going into the Locust Fork game. She also drove in the go-ahead run in the regional game that sent the Lady Raiders to the finals.

“I’ve been working on getting on top of the ball and I’m seeing the ball better,” Perry said. “The Monday (after the regional) all we worked on was tee drills where I get on top of the ball.”

Wicksburg’s biggest threat before the seventh came in the third when it loaded the bases with one out, but Jones got out of it with a 3-2-4 first-to-home-to-first inning-ending double play.

“I expected them to (bounce back); they’ve got guts, man,” Bryant said. “They don’t have any quit in them. Whoever puts us out is going to have to put us out; we’re not going to take ourselves out. They’re going to have to put us out.

“We’re going to try to do the miraculous and fight our way through the losers bracket. I’m proud of them.”

Gordo 7, Pleasant Valley 6
Pleasant Valley 002 200 101 0 – 6 14 2
Gordo 000 040 101 1 – 7 13 2

WP: Cierra Brown. LP: Olivia Jones. 2B: Savannah Williams (PV), Mikayla Kendrick (PV), Brooke Perrigin (G). HR: Mac Parris (PV).

Pleasant Valley 6, Wicksburg 5
Pleasant Valley 301 011 0 – 6 8 1
Wicksburg 000 000 5 – 5 8 4

WP: Olivia Jones. LP: Kristen Eckman. 2B: Ashton White (W). 3B: Savannah Williams (PV0, Atleigh Brannon (PV). HR: Emily Boin (W), Kristen Eckman (W).

Locust Fort 6, Pleasant Valley 5
Pleasant Valley 010 030 1 – 5 10 1
Locust Fork 300 003 x – 6 9 1

WP: Corrina Dodd. LP: Olivia Jones. 2B: Savannah Gilham (LF), Corrina Dodd (LF), Anna Hood (LF), Madison Cater (LF). 3B: Mac Parris (PV). HR: Mikayla Kendrick (PV).

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