By Gary Lloyd
There are about 63 miles between them, but Pinson Valley and Hartselle have developed a bit of a rivalry.
This is the third time the teams have matched up, all playoff games. In 2010, Hartselle beat Pinson Valley 35-27 in the first round. The Indians trailed 35-7 before a furious fourth-quarter comeback fell short.
In 2011, No. 2 Hartselle continued its undefeated season and eventually won a Class 5A state championship after beating Pinson Valley 22-21 on a field goal with four seconds left in the game.
During the 2013 Class 5A baseball playoffs, Hartselle beat Pinson Valley in the state semifinals, then defeated Spanish Fort for the state championship.
On Friday at 7 p.m. at Willie Adams Stadium, the rivalry adds another chapter. Hartselle is 8-2 overall, 5-2 in Class 5A, Region 8. The Tigers are the No. 3 seed from their region, which includes two of the best teams in the state in Muscle Shoals and Cullman. Those are the only two teams to beat Hartselle.
Pinson Valley is 6-4 overall, 5-2 in Class 5A, Region 6. The Indians are the No. 2 seed from their region. The Indians have had a bit of a seesaw season offensively, putting up huge numbers at times and then struggling to find the end zone at others.
This game will likely be defined by running backs. For Hartselle, senior Masio Stover and junior D’Andre Mack lead the way. The duo combined for 281 rushing yards and four touchdowns in last week’s win over Austin.
For Pinson Valley, junior Nick Gibson is capable of putting up those combined numbers by himself any night. He rushed 227 times for 1,935 yards and 24 touchdowns in the regular season. He rushed for 460 yards and six TDs against Mortimer Jordan, and for another 369 yards and six more scores against Moody.
The winner of this game faces the victor from the McAdory-Fort Payne game.
Contact Gary Lloyd at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.