E.A. Sports Today

The next level

Piedmont recognizes the signings of basketball players Delo Foster, Sydney Prater, baseball player Logan Pruitt

By Shannon Fagan
Special to East Alabama Sports Today
PIEDMONT – If there’s one thing Piedmont senior basketball center Delo Foster, forward Sydney Prater and pitcher Logan Pruitt all have in common, it’s their humility.
Even at 6-foot-8, Foster is still seeking improvement to his game. Prater is grateful for the support she had after an ACL tear her sophomore year almost made her quit basketball. And Pruitt is just thankful someone thought enough of him to give him a chance.
Those were the emotions the trio shared Wednesday during Piedmont’s spring signing celebration. Foster and Prater both inked with Gadsden State, while Pruitt becomes the latest Piedmont player to join Wallace-Hanceville.
“The opportunity is great; not a lot of people get to do this,” said the 16-year-old Foster. “I just thank everybody for believing in me. Coach (Tommy) Lewis really started it off and Coach (JoJo) Odam finished it. They believed in me from the start. I thank them for molding me into the player I am.”
That played is a shot-blocking machine who averaged seven points and seven rebounds this past season. Last year, he had games against an athletic Weaver team in which he blocked 17 and 23 shots.
“He changes the game so many ways,” Odam said. “He affects shots he doesn’t even know he affects. I’ve had coaches tell me they wouldn’t even go in the lane because of him. He’s definitely a gamechanger. His timing is unbelievable. People would come up to me and ask ‘How did he learn how to do that?’ You don’t teach blocking shots. It’s instinct. He’s just got a knack for it.”
Now that his goal of signing a college scholarship has been reached, Foster has a new one in mind: transferring to a four-year school after he leaves the Cardinals’ two-year program.
“That’s what the goal is now,” Foster said. “That would be really neat. It’s going to be a lot harder. There are guys my size there, so it’s going to be harder to block shots. That’s what I’m going to try and do when I get to Gadsden State. I’m going to work hard and get bigger.”
For a time, Prater didn’t think things would get any bigger for her. Surgery to repair a torn ACL made her miss her entire sophomore season.

But that’s when she got a little tough love from head coach Terrace Ridley.
“Coach Ridley has always pushed me to be the best I can be,” Prater said. “She never let me settle for being average.”
“I told her that summer after she come back, I said ‘Look, we’ve got some tough competition and you’re going to be Sydney. This is going to get you back where you need to be,'” Ridley said, “We went to JSU (for a summer camp) and we played way above our level. Those girls worked her. She came back after we got done, and when we started the season again, she looked down at that knee brace and said ‘Coach Ridley, I really don’t think I need this anymore.'”
She wound up being the MVP of the Christmas tournament at Cleburne County that year. This past season she became a 1,000-point scorer, averaging 18.2 points, eight rebounds and 3.5 assists. She was a third-team all-state pick and becomes Ridley’s first basketball signee at Piedmont. “She just needed a boost, a big push from somebody,” Ridley said.
“I didn’t think I would be at the level I am now,” Prater said. “My coaches, my parents, everybody has helped me get back and get to the level I want to be at. Now I can actually do what I want to do at the next level. It means a lot for them to give me the opportunity to do it.
“After I tore my ACL, it kind of made me lose my love for the game, but my mom, dad and Coach Ridley had a big part in talking me back into it. They made me realize basketball is something I love to do and it’s not worth giving up because of one setback. That really helped me get back to where I wanted to be. Now I’m better than I could imagine.”
Pruitt also appreciates the opportunity he’s been given. Coming into his senior year, the Bulldogs’ second all-time winningest pitcher (he’s 22-8 in his career), didn’t have a baseball offer on the table. At the end of the regular season he was 6-3 with two shutouts, a 2.00 ERA and a 59-19 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
“At the beginning of the year, I was stressing,” he said. “I didn’t know if this would be my last year of baseball or not. I went to a couple of colleges a while back, and they said I could be one of those guys who gets overlooked, just because my velocity wasn’t there. I went (to Wallace) and they took a shot on me.”
Wallace is hoping to have the same success with Pruitt they’ve already had with former Piedmont standouts Easton Kirk and Taylor Hayes. And it was their feedback that helped Pruitt decide to go there.
“We’ve talked the past two or three years if somebody would just give this kid a chance, they’ll see,” Piedmont coach Matt Deerman said. “There’s no doubt in my mind he’s a competitor. He’s won a lot of ball games on the mound. He’s very confident and comfortable there … It’s like nothing affects him up there. If he has a bad outing, he always finds a way to get out of it or finds a way to be successful. He deserved a chance to have this opportunity.”
Shannon Fagan is sports editor of the Cherokee County Herald.

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