Along with renaming the softball field for the former player and 2006 graduate, the recently installed lights were also recognized, bringing light for the Indians after 23 years of darkness.
“It’s awesome to see so much of the community out here,” Ohatchee coach Kevin Elwell said. “Whenever we play out here we always have good crowds, but to see the community along with the little league baseball and softball kids was great.
“Any time this community pushes for support in something, it’s like there are people that are in line to help. And since it’s been so long since baseball has been in the playoffs, a lot of these people have a good reason to ignore baseball.”
And while Ohatchee has come far this season off the field, it’s done the same on the baseball field.
“We never get down on ourselves,” Indians second baseman Rob Broadwell said. “Last year we would get down and if they scored, it was over with. They were liable to score 10 or more in an inning, but we don’t give up this year.”
And with the Indians not having made the playoffs in decades, the stands have been filled with pride this season. And the product on the field has left fans happy more times than not.
“According to the banner hanging in the gym, the last time we won area was in 1987. I’m proud of how far we’ve come,” Elwell said. “Last year we went 4-19 and usually we were out of it early or we were out of it after the first swing of momentum.”
However, on Friday night, Ohatchee was reminded that it hasn’t made it to the top. Pleasant Valley took the Indians into extra innings after the dedication took place hours earlier and the temperature had dropped. In the end, the Raiders won the Class 2A, Area 12 battle 5-4.
“I don’t know where to start. I’m so proud of our guys,” Pleasant Valley coach Darren Hamby said. “We got down, came back, got down and came back again. We just weren’t going to be denied tonight.
“This is one of the biggest wins that I’ve been a part of. But all of the credit goes to the players and assistant coaches. I can’t say enough about Ronnie Preston and Robby Davis. They do a super job.”
The Pleasant Valley win truly was a game of catch-up in that after Ohatchee scored two runs off back-to-back doubles by Hunter Longoria and Tanner Hamm and a single by Blaine Eubanks, the Raiders needed a comeback, which came the following inning.
Drew Lewiski hit a home run and Dustin Andrews singled and scored after Eddie Roe and Steven Greenwood also singled.
After Zach Mangum drove in Longoria and Eubanks for Ohatchee in the bottom half of the fourth inning, it also seemed scripted that Pleasant Valley would make a comeback. It came in the sixth when Austin Parris singled home Greenwood, who was walked, and Trey Phillips, who hit a double.
“We knew early on in the season that we had a very similar team to them,” Elwell said. “We do the little things well, play good defense and throw strikes, but it’s like looking in the mirror.”
In the sixth, seventh and eighth, Ohatchee had its chances to win. It left a runner on in each inning, unable to get anyone past second base. As for Pleasant Valley, a single by Andrews with the bases loaded in the eighth inning was all it needed to win.
“I normally tell our guys after the game that this, this and this is why we lost, but after this game I told them that Pleasant Valley just caught a few more breaks than we did,” Elwell said. “They have a good team, but so do we.”
Eddie Roe and Parris each had two hits for Pleasant Valley. Dillon Parker had a three-hit game for Ohatchee and Longoria recorded two hits.
The loss doesn’t end what has the potential to be a very special and memorable season for Ohatchee, though. If the Indians are able to defeat Ranburne on Monday on the road and Wellborn at home on Thursday, they will make the postseason.
“Ranburne is a game ahead of Pleasant Valley and us, which are tied,” Elwell said. “We all have two games left next week, so anything can happen.”
Sports Writer Brandon Miller: 256-235-3575. On Twitter @bmiller_star.