Valley baseball ready for season

Published 8:30 am Thursday, February 20, 2020

The Valley baseball team feels like it can make a run in the state playoffs when it comes around in April. Head coach Patrick Shivers feels the team has a good mix of arms and hitting to get this done.

The Rams took that first step when they dominated Handley to start the season, winning 11-0. In that game, eighth-grader Jackson Sanders threw a complete-game no-hitter and just missed throwing a perfect game.

“He has a great command of the strike zone, and we pitched to contact early,” Shivers said. “The second and third time through the order, we started working in his secondary stuff, which is dynamic type of stuff.”

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The Rams offense was clicking as they totaled 11 hits in the dominant win.

In their second game, the Rams started off fast against Central-Phenix City, who finished the 2019 season as the No. 9 team in 7A. They took a five-run lead by the start of the fifth inning, but a couple of missed opportunities allowed the Red Devils to escape with a 7-6 win.

“I’ve seen a gritty group of kids that is swinging the sticks better than any ball club I’ve had early on,” Shivers said. “We hope that is a good sign and that we’re going to get hotter as the season goes. Right now, we’re seeing the ball pretty well and putting it in play. We’re having competitive at-bats one through six in the order.”

Shivers believes the top two-thirds of the lineup’s success is coming from the fact they are sitting fastball early in the count and can adjust whenever they fall behind.

“We like to hunt fastballs early in the count,” Shivers said. “When we’re ahead in the count, we like to sit red and hit fastballs. When we fall behind, we think offspeed and adjust to the fastball.”

On the mound, Sanders is the team’s ace. The left-hander throws in the mid-80s and has devastating secondary pitches.

“He’s going to be dynamic,” Shivers said. “I think he’ll give us a chance every time he toes the rubber.”

Junior Hunter Meadows is the team’s No. 2 starter. Meadows has pitched the last two years for the Rams, finishing as the team’s leading strike-thrower the last two years.

Junior Tristian Hawkins is the Rams No. 3. Hawkins started the game against Central-Phenix and no-hit the Red Devils through the first four innings of play.

“Right now I feel really good about where we are with arms,” Shivers said. “I knew we’re going to have a bunch of arms, but I didn’t know if we were going to have a bunch of guys throwing strikes. So far I’ve been pleasantly surprised, and I think we can really do some damage with the arms that we have.”

The Rams will travel to Dadeville to play the Tigers on Thursday weather permitting. The first pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m. EST.