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TOUGH DAY: Lanett senior Kaleb Davidson exhales at the plate during an at-bat against Valley High School on March 23. Photo by Rashad Milligan

Valley baseball defeats Lanett 18-0 in weekend matchup

VALLEY — The Valley Rams (5-6) defeated the Lanett Panthers (3-8, 1-0) 18-0 on March 23 at Crestview Field.

The win came the day after Valley head baseball coach Patrick Shivers said that he was disappointed in the amount of looking strikeouts that the Rams had in a 5-4 loss to Dadeville. Even after Saturday’s victory, Shivers said he was still relatively discouraged by his team’s performance hitting wise.

“Overall, we’re still not doing what we need to be doing at the plate to accomplish what we want to accomplish,” Shivers said. “We want to be aggressive, hunt fastballs early and when we get down in the count, compete and put the ball in play. We still had two or three guys looking on strike threes. Anytime you go down looking on strike three, that isn’t good. That isn’t what you want to do, you want to be swinging, you want to be putting the ball in play. We want to make outs hitting it to people, we don’t want to make outs hitting the ball.”

Lanett head baseball coach Hunter Ames set out a challenge to his 1A Panthers by scheduling the team against two-time defending 5A area-champion Valley. With a win against Loachapoka on April 3, Lanett clinches a spot in the 1A state playoffs.

“I gave us the opportunity to play a really good team before we get ready to hone down on our area schedule,” Ames said. “When we have the opportunity to play a high-caliber team, I want to jump on that opportunity. If we do make it to the playoffs, I don’t want to be done after the first round.”

The game was not stopped until the middle of the fifth inning, and lasted longer than an hour.

“Lanett struggled a little bit, but Coach Ames has done a great job of getting those kids out and getting them to care about the sport of baseball,” Shivers said. “Hats off to him, and good luck to them for the rest of the year. It’d be great for those guys to make the playoffs in 1A.”

Valley senior Andrue Davis was on the mound for Valley, and pitched a no-hitter in the game’s five innings. Lanett senior Kaleb Davidson, who ran to first base after striking out, was the only Panther to reach base in the contest. Valley players engaged in some talk from the dugout and infield with Davidson and his twin, Kolby, whenever the brothers were at the plate.

“He struck out swinging at a curveball, the only curveball we threw all game because we had respect for him,” Shivers said. “He and his brother have both been good for Lanett this year. They both have really high batting averages so we had respect for them. Our guys knew those two because they used to go to Valley so they were messing with them when they were up to bat. ‘Hey, big stick! He’s batting .700!’”

Valley senior Cody Lumpkin finished with three hits and three RBIs on the day. Valley juniors Eli Culpepper and Daniel Osborne also enjoyed multi-RBI days at the plate.

After reaching the 15-0 run rule mark in the bottom of the fourth inning, Valley stopped advancing runners on wild pitches and didn’t steal bases.  

“It’s not baseball to bunt with the bases loaded on two outs,” Shivers said of the bottom of the fourth inning. “I didn’t think it was really getting out of hand until the bottom of the fourth. We don’t want to try to embarrass teams. That’s not our goal. I have a lot of respect for Coach Ames and Lanett. They played a nice ball game out there in the field. They made the plays that came to them, and only made about four errors.”

In between innings, Ames continued to clap, high five and motivate the Panthers to keep playing hard. Once the game was stopped, Ames instructed his players to keep their heads’ up.

“My boys did show up to play baseball, and that’s what I asked them to do,” Ames said. “They didn’t quit. It didn’t end early. Yes, it was stopped in the fifth inning, but I believe we started early at 11:15 [a.m. EDT.], and we didn’t end until five minutes to 1 [p.m. EDT.]. We played a baseball game today.”

Valley returns home on Thursday to open area play against Tallassee on March 28 at noon EDT. Lanett returns from spring break at home on April 3 to host Loachapoka in a chance to clinch a playoff spot.