By Erik Harris
PINSON – Following a red-hot ending to the 2015 season, the Pinson Valley baseball program is being rewarded for its 32-15 campaign that ended one step shy of a state championship series birth.
Over the weekend, the Alabama Sports Writers Association released its annual All-State Baseball Teams, and two Indians were voted on to the Class 6A second team roster. Third-year head coach Shane Chappell was named Class 6A Coach of the Year.
Chappell will lose second team All-State player Hunter Davidson to graduation, but will retain second team All-State designated hitter Jody Graves for one more year.
“It’s not about awards and the honors that you get,” said Chappell. “It’s the pure joy of just competing and knowing that you’re giving your best, and those two guys (Davidson and Graves) were two of our hardest workers and it’s good to see their hard work recognized.”
Graves, a senior-to-be, stared in his first full season on the varsity diamond, leading Pinson Valley in RBIs. While he made his biggest mark from the batters box as a designated hitter, Chappell is encouraged by Graves’ defensive improvement at first base.
“Jody kind of had a breakout year,” said Chappell. “He put a lot of work into the offseason with his hitting and he doesn’t get a lot of credit for his defensive work, but he has come a long way at first base and has done a really good job becoming a really good defender.”
In his final season playing for the Indians, Davidson found success in various situations, landing him on the All-State roster as a utility player. His innings on the mound along with his production at the dish had much to do with his team’s deep postseason run.
“He was a guy that was as good of a defender in center field as anybody we saw all year,” said Chappell. “There was a couple of times that if we needed to put him at third, we could put him at third, and if we needed to put him at short, he’d go play short.”
Although Chappell does not present team awards at the end of the season, he called Davidson the unofficial team MVP. The Coach of the Year describes his departing senior as a very diverse and athletic player.
“He was a valuable asset for us just because he could serve so many different roles,” said Chappell. “He could bunt. He could steal bases, and, of course, what he did on the mound for us was huge, too.”
Chappell acknowledges that replacing his diverse ability will be hard to do in 2016.
For Graves, adjusting at the plate will be key for him moving forward, as pitchers are now well versed in his power.