That was until Jenna Nolan hit a streaming shot to right centerfield. Her shot lifted the Lady Yellow Jackets to a 4-2 win and kept her team in the winner’s bracket of the Calhoun County softball tournament on Friday.
Before Nolan’s hit, White Plains had made three diving grabs from the catcher, third base and shortstop to negate what appeared to be sure hits and prevent runners from getting into scoring position.
With ace pitcher eighth-grader Anna Snider ahead in the count against Nolan, it looked as if the Lady Wildcats might get out of another dicey situation unscathed and looked to score a victory against Class 6A Oxford. But Nolan smacked one to deep center that landed just beyond the grasp of the outstretched arms of a defender to add the game-winning runs.
“This is why we play softball for moments like that,” Nolan said.
No one got their carpe diem on more than Nolan against White Plains, ranked No. 1 in Alabama Sports Writers Association Class 3A poll.
She finished the game 2-for-3 and knocked in all four of the Lady Jackets runs as they defeated the Lady Wildcats as they handed the second-seeded Lady Wildcats their third loss of the season. Two have come against Oxford.
“That’s the kind of game that you want to win,” Oxford coach Wendy McKibbin said. “Close games, intense games, are the most fun to play. All the kids are involved in it. It’s exciting. It’s better than playing someone not as good as you are and beating up on them. That’s not fun. I like to play good games.”
Given the circumstances late in the game, McKibbin said she knew her team was in good hands with the bat in Nolan’s. “I’ve felt confident with Jenna all-year long,” McKibbin said. “She comes through game after game. She wants to be in that situation.”
Oxford will face another top-ranked team today at 10:30 a.m. when they take on the Class 4A’s No. 1 Alexandria, the top overall seed in the tournament. The Lady Valley Cubs have won games against Jacksonville and Saks by a combined score of 20-0.
White Plains will face Pleasant Valley today at 9 a.m. to stay alive in the double-elimination tournament.
Carlie Sargent got the win for the Lady Yellow Jackets, striking out 10.
Stewart Gail Chase had a pair of hits for Oxford.
The Yellow Jackets got on the board first, going up 2-0 in the third when Nolan knocked in a pair of runs. White Plains battled right back on a towering two-run homer by third baseman Jordan Coleman.
Morgan Cobb and Joy Cain also had hits for the Lady Wildcats.
“I’m proud of the girls,” White Plains coach Rachel Ford said. “They made a lot of really good plays. I know they were into the game and giving me their all. You can’t ask for more than that.
Nick Birdsong covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575. Follow him on Twitter @birds_word.