Preview: Rams face Mobile Christian with state title appearance on the line

Published 5:48 pm Monday, May 6, 2024

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The Valley Rams are just a few wins away from etching their names in the program’s history books as the team looks to advance to the state championship for just the second time in history. 

Valley faces Mobile Christian in the semifinals, and the Rams have only advanced to the semifinals three times (1952,1961, 1978) with the lone state championship appearance coming in 1961. 

Valley has leaned on the strength of its rotation throughout the playoff run. That was evident in the quarterfinals as the Rams swept Holtville and shutout the Bulldogs in consecutive games. 

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The Rams have leaned on Jackson Sanders and C.J. Chambley at the top of the rotation. Sanders took the mound in game one of the quarterfinal series and allowed just four hits while striking out thirteen batters in seven innings. Chambley took the mound in game two, allowing just three hits in six innings. 

Seth Hammock has been Valley’s third starter this season. Hammock has only had two outings during the postseason, allowing nine hits and three earned runs in nine innings of work. 

Valley comes into the series against Mobile Christian with a 26-5 record while the Leopards are 22-10 on the season. Mobile Christian swept Tallassee to get to the semifinals by a combined 20 runs. 

The Leopards have leaned on Zach McKinion at the top of the rotation this season. McKinion has logged 11 starts this season and has posted a 2.25 earned run average. 

Mobile Christian brings a ton of pop at the plate into the matchup. Bryce Rivers and Damian Gatson lead the way, each having a batting average north of .400. Rivers leads the team with 35 RBIs while Gatson holds the team lead with five home runs on the season.  

The Leopards are battle-tested as a program, winning state championships in 2021 and 2022, but the Rams have been tested more this season. Valley has had five of its wins come by three runs or less during the postseason. 

The two teams have not faced off this season. The only opponents that both teams have faced are St. Paul’s Episcopal and Elberta. Valley won a two-game series over Elberta and a three-game series over St. Paul’s while Mobile Christian lost both of its matchups against St. Pauls and won its lone matchup against Elberta. 

The Rams and Leopards face off in a doubleheader to begin the series on Tuesday with game three to be played on Wednesday if needed.