Coosa Valley takes area championship, state quarterfinal spot with sweep of Cornerstone

Published 11:44 am Thursday, April 18, 2024

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

The Coosa Valley Rebels will head to the playoffs as area champions after a dominant showing against their county rival.

Coosa Valley swept its series with the Cornerstone Christian Chargers with 12-1, 11-1 and 15-5 victories to clinch the area championship.

With the sweep, the Rebels earned a bye to the AISA quarterfinals and will host their quarterfinals series on Thursday, April 25 at Coosa Valley Academy.

In the first game of the series on Monday, April 8, the Rebels sprinted ahead to a commanding early lead in Columbiana.

After Coby Moore and Sam Setzer kicked off the top of the first inning, Andrew Weaver opened up the scoring with an RBI single to put Coosa Valley up 1-0.

While the next batter got out, the Rebels scored another run off a passed ball during the ensuing at-bat, and Hunter Willis followed that up with an RBI single of his own to make the lead 3-0 after the first inning.

The Rebels then got a pair of runs off bases-loaded walks in the second inning to increase the lead to 5-0, and then in the next inning, they caught another break after earning two more runs off an error after back-to-back walks.

Cornerstone then broke the run of seven unanswered runs in the bottom of the third inning when Landon Alexander hit a two-out RBI single.

Coosa Valley then restored its seven-run lead with a Jake McArthur RBI single in the top of the fourth that made the score 8-1.

After a one-two-three bottom of the fourth, the Rebels took advantage of three straight hit batters in the top of the fifth to score a run off a ground out, get another RBI single off McArthur’s bat, and plate the final two runs of the game off an error to close out the 12-1 win in five innings.

Moore earned the win with a complete-game five-inning performance, striking out four batters while allowing just one run, five hits and a walk.

Coosa Valley returned to Harpersville on Friday, April 12 looking to close out the series, and it did just that with another pair of wins.

The Rebels started the game with an RBI groundout in the bottom of the first inning. Later in the inning with two outs, they scored another run off a passed ball and then Thomas Mullins hit an RBI single to make the lead 3-0.

Coosa Valley got into a two-out hole in the bottom of the second, but it got another run off an error which increased the lead to 4-0, and in the bottom of the third, it caught another break off an error for the fifth run of the game.

That lead became seven in the bottom of the fourth when Sam Setzer came home off a wild pitch and Mullins hit an RBI single.

The Chargers got on the board in the top of the fifth with a two-out RBI single by Noah Gassner, making the score 7-1.

However, a one-out hit batsman and Setzer single set up the Rebels with two runners in the bottom half of the frame, and both advanced to scoring position after an error during Setzer’s hit.

That set up Moore with a chance to steal home, and on the next at-bat, Setzer scored again off a wild pitch to increase the lead. Jordin Rogers then brought Weaver home off an RBI double to put Coosa Valley just a run shy of ending the game.

After Hunter Willis doubled to put two runners in scoring position, Mullins scored Rogers off an RBI single to seal the 11-1 win for the Rebels.

McArthur dominated on the mound with 10 strikeouts in five innings for a complete-game win. He allowed just one run, three hits and three walks in the process.

Mullins and Setzer both finished the game 3-for-4 with Setzer scoring three runs and Mullins batting in three runs.

Both teams saved their best offensive games for the final game of the doubleheader.

After back-to-back strikeouts from Hunter Willis to end the top of the first, the Rebels got a big break with a run off an error and three more runs off bases-loaded walks. Moore followed that up with an RBI single to put Coosa Valley up 5-0 at the end of the first.

However, Cornerstone recovered in the top of the second with a Seth Graham RBI single to make the score 5-1.

The Rebels restored their five-run lead in the bottom of the second with a Joseph Grantham RBI single that scored Weaver from second.

After the lead-off Chargers batter reached third off a pair of errors, Seth Dillard hit into a ground out that scored Jackson Waugh for Cornerstone’s second run of the game.

A pair of walks put two runners on for Graham, and he hit his second RBI single of the game to cut the deficit to three runs.

Then, an error off a ground ball on the ensuing at-bat made the score 6-4 and put pressure on Coosa Valley.

However, after an error and a hit by pitch put Konner Steele and Moore on base with one out in the bottom of the third, a Setzer double brought both runners home and put the Rebels up 8-4.

Coosa Valley then added a ninth run off a passed ball in the bottom of the fourth to increase the lead to five runs.

After forcing a one-two-three top of the fifth, the Rebels got to work increasing their lead with RBI singles from Grantham and Kaeden Smalls followed by a run off a bases-loaded walk to make the lead 12-4.

The Chargers got a run back in the top of the sixth after Gassner scored off a Waugh sacrifice fly, but the Rebels finished the sweep in the bottom half of the frame.

Coosa Valley got a bases-loaded opportunity after a pair of errors and a walk to start the inning, and another error allowed two runs to score and put the Rebels one run shy of the run-rule win.

Two pitches later, they got just that after a Brycen Wilson RBI ground out scored McArthur and sealed the 15-5 win in six innings.

Setzer, Grantham, Wilson and Steele each finished the game with two RBI to power for the offense.

Hunter Willis took the win with five strikeouts in 2.2 innings without allowing an earned run, and he worked his way around four unearned runs, five hits and three walks. Steele finished off the game with six strikeouts in 3.1 innings while surrendering just one unearned run and two hits.

Coosa Valley will finish the regular season with a two-game set against Glenwood on Friday, April 19 at home before it starts its playoff run in the quarterfinals.