MONTGOMERY — Pleasant Valley has put up more than a few big innings this season, and the big inning got the Raiders in the state softball tournament Wednesday.
A 10-run third inning helped Prattville Christian eliminate Pleasant Valley 12-0 Wednesday, ending the Raiders’ stay in the double-elimination tournament at 1-2 and their season at 33-12.
It wasn’t the only big inning to fell Pleasant Valley. Geneva overcame a 5-1 Raider lead with a six-run inning en route to an 8-5 victory in the tourney opener for both teams.
Another six-run inning evaporated Pleasant Valley’s 4-0 lead over Hale County in the first elimination-bracket game for both teams, but big hits by Bailey Harris and Ava Boozer kept the Raiders alive, 7-6.
“We battled that all day, every game,” Pleasant Valley coach David Bryant said. “We didn’t really have an answer for it in the first game. The second game, we were able to overcome that.
“The Prattville team, I’d say we were gassed, but we were still playing and fighting and never quit. Prattville just had a very good team and put some barrels on the ball.”
Pleasant Valley’s best moment came in the final two innings of the Hale County game. With the Raiders trailing 6-4 in the sixth, Harris closed the gap with a solo home run.
“The only thing that was going through my head was Philippians 4:13,” she said. “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me, and just remember what you’ve been taught. Calm down. You’ve got this.”
Boozer ripped a ball down the left-field line in the bottom of the seventh to score the game’s final two runs and end it.
“I struck out the first at-bat, so I just knew my team was depending in me,” she said. “I needed to do something.”
It was Boozer’s second game-ending hit. She had another against White Plains at Choccolocco Park.
Pleasant Valley reached state as the No. 2 qualifier in the West Central Regional in Tuscaloosa, going 4-1 and splitting two games with J.B. Pennington. The Raiders made their third state appearance in as many years.
“The thing that made me most proud, at the end, it was 12-0, and we go out and get a three up-three down inning,” Bryant said. “We’re making plays. Our energy is still up. Our girls are not quitting.”
Pleasant Valley will lose four seniors, led by 2017 Calhoun County 1A-3A player of the year Savannah Williams, at shortstop and third in the batting order. Fourth hitter and catcher Cortney Williams, leadoff hitter and outfielder Lindsey Pritchett and No. 9 hitter/outfielder Juliana Ballew are set to graduate.
Cortney Williams signed with Coastal Alabama Community College, Savannah Williams with Central Alabama Community College and Ballew with Wallace State-Hanceville in cross country. Pritchett plans to attend Jacksonville State and pursue physical therapy.
“This senior class has the most wins (in school history) in fastpitch,” Bryant said. “They’ve got three consecutive state-tournament appearances.
“The last three years, we got put out in the same place. It’s frustration, but, at the same time, it’s great that we’re here.”