Prep softball: Gannaway's playoff mentality continues to fuel Pleasant Valley
May 17—OXFORD — While few players are built for the playoffs, Pleasant Valley's Rebekah Gannaway is one of them.
Since Pleasant Valley began its area tournament, Gannaway is 10-for-24 (.417 average) with eight RBIs and 13 runs scored.
The senior has also hit three home runs in that time and hit a walk-off double to keep Pleasant Valley alive in the area tournament, which the Raiders would go on to win.
Along with her high level of play comes high levels of confidence and leadership abilities.
As one of the five seniors on Pleasant Valley's softball team, Gannaway said that she has more than embraced her role as a leader in the dugout this season.
"I love to be able to lead, and I love that people look up to me," Gannaway said. "I feel like anything I can do that's good for my team, that's what I want to do."
The shortstop also said that despite not every game of Pleasant Valley's playoff run going her way, her ability to come up big in crucial moments has provided energy for both her and the rest of the team.
"I'm not gonna say every game has been the best game for me, because it hasn't," Gannaway said. "But when I've needed to step up, and when I feel the need to step up, I always step up, I feel like. I feel like they all look up to me, so when I'm doing good, they all follow along. I think when my energy's up their energy is up."
As many Pleasant Valley fans are aware, her ability to come up in big moments isn't just limited to the softball field.
As a member of Pleasant Valley's girls' basketball team, Gannaway finished with 20 points, eight rebounds and four steals against Ider in the Northeast Regional. Her 20 points finished second on the team behind Macey Roper's 24.
She was also named to the Class 1A-3A All-Calhoun County first team after averaging 12.5 points and 10.9 rebounds per game.
Gannaway said that no matter the environment, her mentality never changes when the stakes are at their highest.
"Your state of mind in a playoff situation is important," Gannaway said. "I always think that I can do something. No matter who I'm on the field with, no matter what I'm doing, no matter if I'm on the court with, if I think I can do it I'm gonna do it, and that's my mentality at any point of the game."
Along with the simple reality that she doesn't want to be out of the playoffs, Gannaway said wants to leave a legacy behind every moment she gets.
"It might sound a little funny, but my mentality is, 'I didn't work my butt off all season to end early at all, I came here to make someone remember,'" Gannaway said. "Somebody is going to remember me somewhere, and I feel like the deeper we get into it, the more memorable it's going to be for everybody. Why would we give up and stop working as hard as we have now when we've already made it this far?"
She added that while all playoffs can create intense moments, these playoffs have provided plenty of opportunities to put her abilities on full display.
"Playoffs are a big thing, they're nerve-racking," Gannaway said. "The games are nerve-racking, especially when you fall into the loser's bracket as early as we did, it's a dogfight the rest of the time."
Added Gannaway: "I'm a dog, I'm gonna be a dog in a dogfight. Like, I'm gonna fight it out until I can't anymore. And I feel like that's a really good mentality to have in the playoffs."
Pleasant Valley coach David Bryant said that along with her leadership skills, Gannaway brings a swagger to the Raiders that sets her apart from many players on the field.
"On the field, she's a great leader. She's a competitor," Bryant said. "She has, I guess you call it swag factor, I guess. She's a very confident kid, and every team needs that. She provides that to our team."
Gannaway said that a large part of developing her mentality and overall skill level is simply putting the work into her ability as much as she possibly can.
"When you get my age and you look at it, you're like, 'Oh, I went to the ball field every day since I was six for this and didn't go to birthday parties. I didn't go to hang out with friends. I didn't do anything. It was always ball,'" Gannaway said. "But you look back and you're thankful for it because it got you to the place you are. It made me who I am. And I will forever be grateful for that."
As Gannaway prepares to lead Pleasant Valley to the next round of the state softball tournament, she said that many of the emotions that she's feeling are because of the time she dedicated to being great.
"I feel like that's a big part of the feelings that I'm having right now, because I did work so hard for this moment," Gannaway said. "I did work so hard to come out here and for people to remember me and for people to look at me and be like, 'You know what? She worked and worked and worked and it shows.'"
Sports Writer Thomas Ashworth: 256-236-1551. On Twitter: @ThomasAshworth0.