Joe Medley: Ford makes tough call, but top seed White Plains still alive
by Joe Medley
jmedley@annistonstar.com
Apr 10, 2013 | 3474 views |  0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
OXFORD — Sometimes, a coach must do what a coach must do, and credit White Plains’ Rachel Ford for doing just that during the Calhoun County softball tournament.

White Plains entered the tournament as the top seed, and players want to beat their county rivals. Ace pitcher Anna Snider certainly did.

“I love to pitch,” she said.

Problem was, Snider entered the tournament with a strained pitching elbow. The sophomore and third-year ace could pitch, but it was a borderline call.

White Plains, the 10th-ranked team in Class 3A, has put a lot of work into becoming a state-level contender over the past three years. The postseason starts at the end of this month.

Dilemma?

“Everybody knows this tournament is a big deal for bragging rights,” Ford said. “But, as far as playoffs, you never want to sacrifice the playoffs for this tournament.

“Anna could have started the first game, but we didn’t want to use her until we had to and save her as much as we could.”

Ford kept Snider off the mound through White Plains’ first three games and three innings of the fourth game this week at Oxford Lake Park.

Snider came on with bases loaded in the fourth inning to finish White Plains’ 6-5 victory over Pleasant Valley on Wednesday night, and the Wildcats survived the elimination bracket to get to Friday’s final-day action.

She hurt her elbow while making a hook slide against Class 3A county rival Saks in another tournament lastweekend. She didn’t pitch the rest of that game and three more leading into the county tourney.

Ford kept Snider off the mound in the Wildcats’ county tourney opener Tuesday, and the Wildcats lost to No. 9 seed Alexandria 7-3 to fall into the elimination bracket.

Facing a one-and-done scenario Wednesday, Ford went with eighth-grader Ashlyn Hinton in White Plains’ first two games Wednesday. The Wildcats beat Weaver 10-2 and Jacksonville 9-1.

Ford started Amber Greenwood against Pleasant Valley, and Hinton relieved her.

“I cannot brag on Ashlyn Hinton enough, that eighth-grade pitcher,” Ford said. “She just did an amazing job today, did everything we asked her to do. I think she only gave up five hits, both games she threw.

“A heck of a job by her and Amber, too, just doing their part, doing their job when I asked them to.”

Then came the fourth inning, and Ford had to make another tough call.

“I felt like, in that inning, when they got bases loaded, that we kind of needed it,” she said. “I thought Anna did a good job pitching through the pain.”

Snider gave up one hit, Kara Perry’s home run to right-center field, but settled in. She struck out one batter and walked none.

White Plains will play Alexandria at 4 p.m. Friday, and the Wildcats could be headed for a showdown with Saks and star pitcher Taylor West. Ford has another decision to make.

“I don’t know,” she said. “I think it’s a day-by-day thing.”

Wednesday’s games were supposed to be played today but were pushed up a day because of anticipated severe weather.

“She’s going to have plenty of time to rest,” Ford said. “Ice can take care of it, and we’ll see how she feels Friday. If she’s good, we might throw her. If she’s not, we won’t.

“Playoffs are more important. Without a doubt, we want to win this tournament. We want to make a good showing for White Plains, but we definitely want people healthy after this week.”

Sports Columnist Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter @jmedley_star.
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