State softball: White Plains' bats awaken
by Joe Medley
May 17, 2013 | 4760 views |  0 comments | 111 111 recommendations | email to a friend | print
White Plains' Shelby Wood takes a rip against Good Hope on Friday during the AHSAA state softball tournament at Lagoon Park in Montgomery. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
White Plains' Shelby Wood takes a rip against Good Hope on Friday during the AHSAA state softball tournament at Lagoon Park in Montgomery. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
MONTGOMERY -- White Plains came into its latest crack at the state softball tournament battling year-old demons, but one wouldn’t know it, watching the Wildcats swing the bats Friday night.

Sixth-ranked White Plains came out aggressive after struggling in its opener Friday and stayed alive with a 7-1 victory over Straughn in the Class 3A losers’ bracket.

The victory followed a 2-0 loss to No. 2 Good Hope earlier in the day.

White Plains (33-14) will play at 9 a.m. Saturday against Calhoun County rival Saks, which lost 1-0 to Pisgah on Friday.

Saks won the 3A title in 2012. White Plains entered the 2012 tournament as the top-ranked team, and White Plains coach Rachel Ford said 2012 motivates her team “a lot.”

“And I think a lot of it, too, is nobody really expected us to be here again,” Ford said. “We lost a lot. We really did lose a lot in our seniors.”

The Wildcats lost seniors Jordan Coleman and Kiley Ponder from that 2012 team. Coleman ranked among the state’s most dangerous hitters, so much so that she often drew intentional walks.

White Plains could have used some intentional walks against Good Hope on Friday. Pitcher Anna Snider threw a complete-game, two-hitter, but the Wildcats managed just three hits.

The three hits included a triple from Sophia Taylor and double from Lauren Mueller, but both hits came with two outs.

Taylor had White Plains’ other hit, a lead-off single in the bottom of the first inning. and got to second on Morgan Cobb’s sacrifice bunt. Snider popped out, and Mikayla Owen struck out.

Good Hope pitcher Cara Goodwin struck out 12 batters.

Ford said the Wildcats came into the Good Hope game confident but started pressing.

“We just have to be aggressive at the plate, and we’ve got to be aggressive on good pitches,” Ford said. “I feel like that was something we really struggled with in the first game. We were swinging at bad pitches and watching the good pitches go by.”

White Plains had no choice but to be aggressive in the elimination game against Straughn, which opened its day with a 6-2 loss to Madison Academy. The Wildcats came out aggressive and mad.

“We got shutout our first game, and that was really frustrating to us,” Snider said. “We know we’re capable of hitting, and it was very frustrating.

“To lose that first game really puts you in a tough position, and I think it really lit a fire in us.”

White Plains reeled off 11 hits against Straughn, the biggest blow coming from Snider. She hit a two-run home run to right-center field to put the Wildcats up 4-1 in the top of the fifth inning.

The blast off Straughn starter Hayden Willis plated Ryleigh Randall, who came on as a pinch runner after Morgan Cobb singled.

Willis “got ahead on me (in the count), and so I stepped up on the plate some more and just hit it,” Snider said.

Snider went 2-for-2, matching two-hit performances from teammates Lauren Mueller and Amber Greenwood.

Meanwhile, Snider worked six innings on the mound, allowing four hits with three strikeouts.

“She’s a great player,” Ford said. “We always can depend on her. She’s going to be consistent, and that’s big for us.”

Greenwood pitched a perfect seventh inning in relief to finish off Straughn, which finished its season 22-19 after going 0-2 Friday. White Plains lives to play Saturday.

“I wish we had turned it on a little bit sooner, but I am proud of how we didn’t give up and came back ready to fight for something today,” Ford said.

Now, White Plains gets another crack at Saks, a team White Plains has beaten in five of six meetings this season. The Wildcats won the last five meetings, after losing on April 5.

“I feel really confident about it,” Taylor said. “We’ve played Saks. We know who Saks is. We’ve gotten it done all this season.”

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

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