By Erik Harris
There is a Class 6A state championship game to get to in Montgomery next week.
To get on I-65 South for Riverwalk Stadium, Pinson Valley will have to head north for a best-of-three series at No. 1 Cullman first. With two wins over their hosts, the Indians would advance to the state finals.
“It is going to be the toughest two, three games that we’ve played in our entire life,” said Pinson Valley head coach Shane Chappell. “I don’t think Cullman is going to sneak up on us. They are unbelievably talented, got a great lineup one through nine, got guys on the mound that can really pitch, and they are hardnosed and it’s going to be tough for us to do what we need to do.”
The Bearcats started the season ranked atop the AHSAA poll and never stepped back for a moment. From the ranking’s season debut, to the final listing, Cullman remained the top-ranked team in the state.
The Indians respect that, but aren’t intimidated by their opponent’s impressive resume. They will enter Friday’s doubleheader at Bill Shelton Field on a 25-4 run over the second half of the season.
“We’re fortunate, we’re blessed to be in there, but we are not satisfied,” said Chappell. “We’ve been here before, we were here two years ago. We’re not going up just happy that we’re here, we’re going up with a mission.”
Right fielder and No. 3 pitcher Raul Tafoya doesn’t plan to elude that mission come Friday.
“Cullman, they’re going to be a tough team, but we’re going to play as hard as we can and we’re going to try to win,” said Tafoya.
Junior Jody Graves sees this opportunity as a culmination of months of hard work.
“Just prepare and work as hard as we possibly can this next week, because we’ve worked our tails off all season trying to get to where we are now and I think we just need that little extra push to get us there,” said Jody Graves.
With a series win over Cullman, Pinson Valley would challenge the winner of No. 3 Spanish Fort at No. 2 Pelham for a state championship next week.