Not only are the Lady Tigers competing in the Class 2A South Central Regional in Troy, facing 10th-ranked Prattville Christian at 9:30 a.m. Friday, but Wortham-Thompson’s husband, Jonathan, also returned from Afghanistan.
“He left to go to Camp Shelby (Miss.) in June, and I was pregnant,” she said. “He got to come home in August, and our daughter was born Aug. 2. He got to see her for five days then he left for Afghanistan.
“He’s been gone from our home almost a year, but he’s been in Afghanistan since August.”
While Jonathan has been overseas serving in the Army, Wortham-Thompson has been busy teaching physical education at Randolph County High while also raising four children.
“I have a 15 year old, a 13 year old, a 7 year old and a nine-month old,” she said. “I have a lot of friends and family that help. If it wasn’t for them I would be a mess.”
And, not to mention, Wortham-Thompson has also coached the Lady Tigers (17-10-1) back to the regionals for the first time since 2009 with a team that only has four upperclassmen — all seniors.
“We weren’t very good the last few years because everyone was so young. But now that we have more experience we’ve gotten good again,” senior Briana Robinson said. “We just work together better this year. Last year we had a bunch of little fights and stuff.”
Last season, the small bickering held the team back on the field and senior Allison Richards said Randolph Count is now “like one big family.”
“It’s easier now because we don’t bicker,” she said. “And our coach has ruled out negativity.”
The changes led the Lady Tigers to losing only one game in the regular season and not losing a home game until the Class 2A, Area 7 tournament.
Much of the success for the season came from offensive production, something Randolph County has made a name for itself doing in the past. Valerie Watkins, Mollie Heard, and Richards each are batting above .400. Hannah Prestridge leads the team in batting average with .511.
“We had to start back at fundamentals, but we’ve gotten a lot better,” senior Brooke Richards said.
However, Randolph County took a hit when senior first baseman Melanie Watkins broke her wrist several weeks ago. And with Prattville Christian posing an obvious threat on Friday, Wortham-Thompson has moved Lauren Cofield, Vania Craft and Mollie Heard in a triangle from pitcher to catcher to first base.
“That’s going to hurt a little because Melanie was one our leaders, but we’ve made some adjustments,” Wortham-Thompson said. “Now our whole infield are 10th grade and below.”
However, youth or experience doesn’t win games — performance on the field does. Even battling the rain early in the week Randolph County was preparing for its next challenge, working on bunt coverage and defense in general without one of its seniors.
“We really needed to focus on that,” Wortham-Thompson said. “I’ve told the girls everything before us is whipped clean. When you go to regionals you’re starting all brand new.”
Brandon Miller covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575 or follow him on Twitter @bmiller_star