CLASS 1A-4A ALL-AREA: Walker, Gann kept Priceville standard going

Jun. 7—PRICEVILLE — The Priceville baseball team had a banner year in 2023.

The Bulldogs went 29-7 that year, finished the regular season ranked No. 1 and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Class 4A playoffs.

The question coming into this season, however, was whether that was just a one-time thing or the start of a new standard for Priceville baseball.

"After we had lost in the playoffs that year, Coach (Preston) Potter talked about how this was the new standard and he wanted to keep that going," senior catcher Wes Walker said. "We wanted this to be the new tradition for Priceville baseball."

That would be easier said than done.

Coming into this year, Priceville had to replace eight of its starting nine in the lineup.

"We knew it was going to be a challenge because those guys we lost were all great ballplayers," junior pitcher Colman Gann said. "But we had some talented guys coming up that we had faith could fill those holes, and they really did."

This season Priceville delivered another 20-win season, finishing 20-12 and advancing to the playoffs. Helping along the way were a couple of star players in Walker and Gann.

Walker closed his career at Priceville with another stellar season, batting .433 with a 1.376 OPS, 33 RBIs and nine home runs. Gann had a breakout season, posting a 6-1 record with a 1.17 ERA, .97 WHIP and 87 strikeouts. He also pitched a no-hitter.

Because of their seasons, both were named The Decatur Daily's Class 1A-4A Players of the Year.

"We knew what we were getting out of Wes. He's lived up to the hype since he was a freshman and continued to produce like he always has," Priceville head coach Preston Potter said. "Colman was dominant every time he was on the mound. When he had the ball in his hands, we had complete trust that he was going to get the job done."

Being pitcher and catcher, the two lived off each other as their relationship helped them to thrive.

"We were definitely on the same page almost all the time," Walker said. "I called my own games and we had trust in each other."

"I can't think of how many times I would think of a pitch in my head and that was the exact pitch he called," Gann added. "Every time we had a mound visit I knew he had something good to say."

One mound visit in particular paid off in April when Gann tossed a no-hitter.

"It was the last inning and he came up to me and said, 'let's just throw a fastball on this guy.' That ended up being the last out," Gann said. "It was a great experience."

Walker had his own eye-popping games, including a stretch late in the season where he batted .611 across six games with four doubles, four home runs and 11 RBIs. That included a walk-off home run off the scoreboard to defeat rival West Morgan in what ultimately helped Priceville reach the playoffs.

"It was special for me, that was probably one of the best stretches of my career," Walker said. "At the end of the day I just care about doing whatever I can to help my team, but I will admit that walk-off against West Morgan, I had a lot of fun that game."

Next season will bring more changes with Gann returning with his eyes set on even bigger goals.

"I was trying to break the strikeout record held by Thomas Kerby this season and I was about 20 off. Next year I'll break it," Gann said.

Meanwhile, Walker will head off to play baseball for the University of North Alabama, leaving behind a Priceville program he believes is destined for bigger things.

"The future is bright for Priceville baseball, there's no doubt about it," Walker said. or 256-340-2395. Twitter @CalebSuggs2