E.A. Sports Today

Early re-Ward

Pleasant Valley junior latest to go all in on Gadsden State’s softball revival, will graduate in May and start her college career early.

Cover photo: Pleasant Valley’s Gracee Ward celebrates her commitment to Gadsden State Community College on Thursday in Pleasant Valley High’s library. (Photo by Joe Medley)

By Joe Medley
East Alabama Sports Today

PLEASANT VALLEY — Gracee Ward didn’t just celebrate her commitment to play softball for Gadsden State Community College.

The Pleasant Valley junior also announced, sort of, that she’s coming out of high school early. This coming softball season will be her last as a Raider.

OK, so it wasn’t that dramatic, but she will graduate early. Like any good catcher, she’s a step ahead of the game.

“The summer of my ninth-grade year, I took two of my 10th-grade classes already,” she said. “So then last year (sophomore year), I had two 11th-grade classes and two 10th-grade classes.

“Then, I took a class online during school last year, and then I took one summer class this year. Now, I have all senior classes this year.”

The spread for Gracee Ward’s commitment ceremony Thursday. (Photo by Joe Medley)

Coming off of a state-tournament berth, Pleasant Valley will get one more season of Ward’s play behind the plate and in the batter’s box. She batted .392 with a .488 on-base percentage, three home runs, 12 doubles and 38 RBIs.

It was a season for her to reclaim what she lost through a tough injury break as a freshman. An ankle injury kept her to limited action in the area tournament, and the Raiders didn’t advance to regional.

Ward started with the junior-varsity team as a seventh-grader.

“She’s worked extremely hard to be where she’s at,” Pleasant Valley coach David Bryant said. “She’s a leader on the field, an excellent student in the classroom.

“She’s one of the typical Pleasant Valley girls. She’s a good player, but she’s an even better person.”

Gadsden State reinstated its softball program and has recruited local talent. Former Pleasant Valley standout Rebekah Gannaway, a senior in 2023, is a freshman at GSCC, and Oxford senior Reagan Sanders on Monday had a ceremony to mark her commitment to the Cardinals.

“I was very thrilled and pleased with the coach,” she said. 

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