E.A. Sports Today

Winner, winner, (maybe) chicken dinner

Pleasant Valley checks off big box on to-do list by clinching area No. 1, next up is playing for coach’s smoked chicken

Tuesday’s softball scores
Alexandria 9, Cleburne County 1
Moody 11, White Plains 1
Oxford 3, Fort Payne 2
Pleasant Valley 2, Wellborn 1 
 
By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today
 
The Pleasant Valley softball team checked off a big box on its season-long to-do list Tuesday when it clinched first place in Class 3A Area 11. An even tastier treat awaits later this week if the Lady Raiders can complete a regular-season sweep Wednesday afternoon.

The Lady Raiders edged Wellborn 2-1 to claim the No. 1 and host seed in their area tournament. If the can beat the Lady Panthers at home Wednesday to complete an undefeated area season, coach David Bryant has promised to wheel out his smoker and make them all a smoked chicken feast Friday.
 
“It’s just nice to check that box off,” Bryant said. “We love to play at home, so that’s obviously our first objective whenever we’re moving towards post-season. That’s a load off of us to have that box checked. Tomorrow we’re playing for pride and chicken.”
 
Bryant brought out the smoker last year just because “they’re a good bunch of kids and I love them.” One day at practice second baseman Rylee Haynes asked when he going to do it again and that’s when he struck the deal that he would if they went undefeated in regular-season area play.
 
Tuesday’s win left them 7-0 in the five-team area with only Wednesday’s game left. They’ve won 15 straight against area competition in regular-season and area tournament play since 2017.
 
“If we check off the box tomorrow, then we all eat chicken on Friday,” Bryant said.
 
The two heroes of Tuesday’s victory didn’t get a chance to sample Bryant’s fare last year. Pitcher Leah Patterson and third baseman Bailey Harris were both on a school FCA kayaking trip last year when Bryant rolled out the smoker. They’re looking forward to some finger-lickin’ good success Wednesday.
 
“I haven’t tried it yet, so we’re going to see if it’s good or not,” Harris said.
 
“It’d be better than a school lunch, I guess,” Patterson predicted.
 
Wellborn added more incentive for the Lady Raiders when it beat them in their Calhoun County Tournament opener last week. It was the only the third game PV softball has lost to an area rival in any competitive situation since 2016.
 
“The other day in county we didn’t execute and they did a good job of making us pay for it,” Bryant said. “We didn’t execute today (either), but we got away with it. Leah did an outstanding job in the circle today to keep them at bay, but offensively we struggled … It’s something we’ve got to work on and figure out.”
 
The Lady Raiders left 11 runners on base, eight in scoring position. They scored their only runs in the first inning on Harris’ two-out, two-run double to right-centerfield on a 3-2 pitch. It brought home Savannah and Cortney Williams, both of whom walked after two were out.
 
“It took a lot of pressure off our shoulders,” Harris said of the victory. “We get to host area, it’s all good, and get one more win we get the chicken. It was a big accomplishment to check off this box today.”
 
Wellborn didn’t make it easy. The Lady Panthers made it 2-1 in the sixth when Lucy Williams dropped a single into short right field just out of Haynes’ reach to score Lynzee Hicks. Patterson retired the next batter to get out of the inning and then got through the seventh without much drama.
 
“I wanted to beat them from the county, but I really wanted to just throw strikes and not walk as many people,” Patterson said. “That last inning I was just focusing on throwing strikes. I didn’t want to walk anyone.”
 
Alexandria 9, Cleburne County 1: The Lady Cubs erupted for six runs in the first inning and Lanie Dreyer made it stand with a complete-game five-hitter with seven strikeouts. Ashley Phillips, Maggie Phillips and Dreyer all had a pair of hits for Alexandria.
 
Oxford 3, Fort Payne 2: Bailey Clark’s RBI double and two run-scoring ground outs staked the Lady Jackets to a 3-0 lead in the first inning and Emily Thrasher kept Fort Payne off the board until the sixth. Thrasher took a no-hitter and retired 13 straight batters into the sixth.
 
Moody 11, White Plains 1: Carmen Terry and Lilly Crowe homered in consecutive innings after Moody already had the lead and Elisabeth Boso held White Plains to two hits. Terry hit a solo homer in the third to extend Moody’s lead to 4-1 and Crowe homered to start a six-run fourth. Callyn Martin had both of White Plains’ hits. 

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