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Out of the Valley

Alexandria, the 2024 Calhoun County softball champion. (Photo by Joe Medley)
Alexandria, the 2024 Calhoun County softball champion. (Photo by Joe Medley)

Alexandria, AL – After a year out of the top, Alexandria returns with fifth county title in seven years as MVP Slaton tames Piedmont bats, slams two home runs.

2024 Calhoun County softball tournament

At Choccolocco Park
MONDAY, April 1

No. 7 Jacksonville 15, No. 10 Anniston 2
No. 6 Pleasant Valley 7, No. 11 Saks 0
No. 4 Ohatchee 17, No. 13 Faith Christian 0
No. 5 Oxford 7, No. 12 Jacksonville Christian 0
No. 8 Weaver 9, No. 9 Wellborn 0
No. 2 White Plains 6, Jacksonville 0
No. 3 Piedmont 3, Pleasant Valley 2
Oxford 9, Ohatchee 1
No. 1 Alexandria 7, Weaver 0
Elimination bracket
JCA 2, Faith 2
TUESDAY, APRIl 2
Winners’ bracket

Piedmont 2, White Plains 1
Alexandria 4, Oxford 1
Elimination bracket
Jacksonville 15, JCA 0
Pleasant Valley 11. Wellborn 1
Ohatchee 7, Anniston 1
Weaver 11, Saks 2
PV 11, Jacksonville 4
Ohatchee 6, Weaver 3
THURSDAY, April 4
Winners’ bracket final
Alexandria 7, Piedmont 0
Elimination bracket
Oxford 5, Pleasant Valley 2
White Plains 7, Ohatchee 0
White Plains 15, Oxford 6
Elimination-bracket final
Piedmont 5, White Plains 2
FRIDAY, April 5
Championship

Alexandria 12, Piedmont 2

Alexandria, the 2024 Calhoun County softball champion. (Photo by Joe Medley)
Alexandria, the 2024 Calhoun County softball champion. (Photo by Joe Medley)

The 2024 Calhoun County softball all-tournament team. (Photo by Joe Medley)
The 2024 Calhoun County softball all-tournament team. (Photo by Joe Medley)

ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM

MVP: Pressley Slaton, Alexandria.
Offensive MVP: Christian Hess, Alexandria.
Defensive MVP: Savannah Smith, Piedmont.
Alexandria: Allyssa Hunt, Jill Cockrell, Charlee Parris.
Piedmont: Carson Young, Cayla Brothers, Cacey Brothers.
White Plains: Carli Fritts, Callie Richardson.
Oxford: Berkley Mooney, Kaelyn Crossley.
Pleasant Valley: Madyson Cromer, Lily Henry.
Ohatchee: Alanah Fitch, Breanna Martin.
Jacksonville: Dailyn Wood.
Weaver: Kynlee Fulmer.

Alexandria’s Pressley crushes a foul ball in the direction of her coach, Brian Hess, during Friday’s Calhoun County final at Choccolocco Park. (Photo by Joe Medley)
Alexandria’s Pressley crushes a foul ball in the direction of her coach, Brian Hess, during Friday’s Calhoun County final at Choccolocco Park. (Photo by Joe Medley)

By Joe Medley

OXFORD — It was a Pressley Slaton kind of day at Friday’s Calhoun County baseball final. A stiff wind blew out toward left field, and Alexandria’s slugger/pitcher came to the plate pulling.

The righty pulled so hard she nearly hit Alexandria coach Brian Hess with a foul ball.

Slaton straightened two balls out for home runs, capping her MVP performance with a the walk-off, two-run shot in the bottom of the fifth inning as Alexandria downed defending champion Piedmont 12-2 on Choccolocco Park’s signature field.

Alexandria (20-7-1) claimed its 12th county title in 23 years and fifth in seven years, including 2020, when the the COVID-19 pandemic nixed the county tournament.

“I’m just glad for it to be back where it belongs,” Hess said. “That’s what the kids were talking about today, and I told them, ‘Nobody’s going to give you this. They’re the reigning champion. You’re going to have to earn it.’

“I think they bounced back this year.”

Alexandria, which came one game short of the final round in 2023, beat Piedmont 7-0 in this year’s winners’ bracket final and turned the final into a run-rule game.

The Valley Cubs clubbed 15 hits, including six extra-base hits. Offensive MVP Christian Hess went 3-for-4 with a double, two runs and an RBI. All-tournament pick Jill Cockrell went 3-for-4 with a triple, three runs and two RBIs.

All-tournament picks Charlee Parris and Allyssa Hunt had two hits apiece.

Slaton had the biggest day at the plate, going 3-for-4 with two home runs and five RBIs.

“Hats off to Alexandria,” Piedmont coach Rachel Smith said. “That’s a great ball club. It’s a great hitting team.

“When we play great teams, it’s an opportunity to see what you can do against great competition. It also exposes us to let us know what we’ve got to get better at.”

Alexandria’s Pressley Slaton pitches against Piedmont during Friday’s Calhoun County tournament championship game at Choccolocco Park. (Photo by Joe Medley)
Alexandria’s Pressley Slaton pitches against Piedmont during Friday’s Calhoun County tournament championship game at Choccolocco Park. (Photo by Joe Medley)

Slaton’s work at the plate accounted for half of her MVP performance. She struck out four batters and allowed four hits and no earned runs in five innings.

Her home runs came in the fourth and fifth innings. She also had an RBI single in Alexandria’s four-run first.

“This year, I’ve been focusing on my swing, but most of all, I’ve been focusing on giving everything to God,” she said. “In that moment, all I could think was, God’s going to let you have what God’s going to let you have.

“I just had to go up there with a clear mind.”

Slaton, who didn’t make the all-tournament team a year ago, has emerged as potentially Alexandria’s next version of Rylee Gattis, Maggie Phillips and so many others that have helped Hess win to state titles with a runner-up finish. She’s getting it done as a pitcher and slugger.

“Man, your MVP is your MVP,” Brian Hess said. “It’s always going to be in the circle, and she’s our MVP. There ain’t know ifs, ands or buts about it. She’s been that all year. …

“That shows you her resilience and willingness to go to work. She wants to be like the ones that have come before. I told her, ‘Look, if you want to be like Rylee and the ones that have come before, you have to get after it.’ She’s been more than willing to do it. I’m extremely proud of her.”

While Slaton and her teammates played lights out through the tournament, its how they played with lights on that stood out to Hess. They scored four runs in the first inning but four each in the fourth and fifth.

“They love county, man, and I always tell folks,” Brian Hess said. “Most tournaments are not this way, but if we can ever get to where the sun goes down and the lights come on, Alexandria softball plays at a different level.”

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