Valley looks to start deep playoff run by taking care of business in round one

Published 11:51 am Wednesday, April 17, 2024

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For the second straight season, the Valley Rams are set to host a playoff series at Crestview Field. The Rams earned the honor this season after a gutsy performance against Beauregard to win the area. Now, the team will look to translate that momentum into a deep playoff run. 

“That was a huge win for us,” Valley coach Mike Meadows said. “Two outs, bottom of the seventh, nobody on base, we found a way to win that game. That should be a huge momentum boost for our guys going into the playoffs.” 

Valley hosts Elberta on Friday in a best-of-three series for round one, with Friday being a doubleheader. The Warriors were the second seed in 5A-Area 1 and the team is somewhat of an unknown for the Rams. 

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“They’ve got a couple of good arms,” Meadows said. “They’ve got three or four guys that can swing it really well. Other than that, we haven’t really heard a whole lot. Where they’re from, they play a lot of quality competition every game. It’s going to be a challenge. It’s not going to be an easy series. We’re going to have to play our best baseball.”

Valley has several days of rest after closing out the regular season with a win against Handley on Monday. The rest allows the Rams to put the top of the rotation at the forefront on Friday. 

Auburn commit Jackson Sanders is set to toe the rubber in game one for the Rams, and the coaching staff expects to have C.J. Chambley on the mound in game two. The pair has been dominant at the top rotation for Valley all season, and they look to end the series in two games. 

“I think it’s huge for us,” Meadows said about the reliability of Chambley and Sanders. “You got two seniors, they both want the ball… When you’ve got two seniors, it’s kind of hard not to give your seniors the chance to go out there and win the first two.” 

Seth Hammock will start on Saturday for Valley if needed. The junior has pitched big innings for the Rams this season, and him being the third option is less of a knock on him and more of a testament to how strong Valley’s rotation is. 

“I’ve got all the confidence in the world. He’s thrown a lot of big games for us over the last two years and done really well,” Meadows said. “We’re just lucky. We’ve got three good guys that start.” 

Valley won its area last season, but the Rams were upset at home in three games against Tallassee. While several are the faces are familiar, Valley is completely different from the team that got upset last season. 

The Rams were just happy to get over the hump of winning an area championship in 2023. Valley holds a 20-4 record this season, and the expectations and standards are higher than they have ever been. 

“I think last year we made a really big deal about winning the area and hosting the first round of the playoffs,” Meadows said. “As coaches, that was something we talked about all the time. This year we tried to preach, let’s win the area and host, but let’s not be happy with just playing in the first round. Let’s get out of the first round and see how far we can go.” 

Valley’s pitching staff has been more than reliable this season, but the offense has been streaky at times. The coaching staff has emphasized improvements at the plate at practice and hopes it leads to a deep run in the playoffs. 

“Just trying to change our approach some and have a plan when we get in the box,” Meadows said. “A lot of times we don’t have a good plan when we get in there. Hopefully, this week we’re going to work hard on that and get better.” 

The Rams have been led by senior leadership, and the attitude within the locker room has changed. The group of seniors is looking to leave an impact on the program and not end their high school career in the first round. 

“Our seniors are really focused,” Meadows said. “They’re not ready for this thing to be over with. When you’ve got players pushing other players, I think that goes further than coaches pushing players.” 

The series against Elberta will begin on Friday at 5:30 P.M. with the second game to follow and a possible third game on Saturday.