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Valleroy looking for big finish with Mustangs
South Effingham's Jakob Valleroy (left) chases Effingham County's Christian Campbell during a Feb.15 game at Rebel Field in Springfield. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff

GUYTON — Jakob Valleroy is on a mission. 

If you ask the ace for the South Effingham baseball team anything regarding this season, his response is the same — he wants to get the Mustangs to the top.

“(I want to) leave a legacy,” Valleroy said. “The 2016 team went to the Final Four. We are always chasing that same goal.”

As a youngster, Valleroy enjoyed playing soccer but realized he enjoyed throwing strikes more than scoring goals.

“I started playing baseball when I was in sixth grade,” he said. “Starting out, I really didn’t know what to do. I played soccer when I was little and then I got into middle school and realized I liked the sport. It just went on from there.”

The ride hasn’t always been a smooth but his teammates have made his time at South Effingham unforgettable.

“They mean a lot to me,” Valleroy said. “I love every single one of them. They’ve been there for me ever since I came out in sixth grade and ever since then, I’ve been right there by their side.”

There are no breaks in the Mustangs’ schedule this season and Valleroy knows Class AAAAA is no walk in the park.

“(Class AAAAA) is tough,” he said. “When you get to AAAAA, it’s a lot more serious. It’s a bigger environment and an all-around harder division.”

Valleroy is honored to toe the rubber for South Effingham. With this being his senior season, Valleroy is making every pitch count.

“It means a lot because (head coach Todd Eubanks) is trusting me up there to throw strikes and attack the zone,” Valleroy said. “It’s a big step to take.”

Valleroy was in the zone Friday, shutting out Decator 7-0 in Brunswick in the Baseball at the Beach Tournament. It was the Mustangs’ first win after an 0-4 start.

Despite the early struggles, there is no shortage of energy or passion inside the program.

“We are a team,” Valleroy said. “We get after it every single day in practice. We all want to win. Our main strength is our bond with each other. We all have each other’s backs.

“We all have the same goals and the same mindset.”

Valleroy is proud of the steady growth the team has made during the offseason, saying there’s been improvements on both sides of the ball.

“Our defense is solid,” Valleroy said. “Our pitching staff is really solid. I think our hitting is right at the point where if we just fix a little tweak here and there, we will be unstoppable.”

When Gross delivered his first pitch in practice, it was then he realized that his senior season was underway.

“I took it all it in and just let it ride,” he said.

And of course, like any senior, Valleroy wants this season to be epic. He hopes for nothing short of his team hoisting the trophy in May.

“(I want to) win a bunch of games,” he said. “Last year and the year before that it’s been tough. I’m trying to make it out to at least the third round, if not the Final Four and the state championship. Win the region of course, have fun with my team. It’s my last year. I have to get after it.”