Winning, losing, errors and hitting. It appears for White Plains, hitting home runs can be lumped in there, too.
The Lady Wildcats hit six home runs in two games to cruise into the state softball tournament winning a pair of games over Saks, 7-1 and 13-0.
And while there were plenty of home runs to go around on Saturday, no one was happier about it than senior Joy Cain, who connected on the first one of her career in the first inning of the morning game.
“Amazing,” said Cain, using only one word to sum up the feeling.
The reason for the outbreak, however, took a few more to describe. White Plains had hit home runs before the tournament, but the bulk of those dingers were coming from one person — junior Jordan Coleman, who connected on her 20th of the season with a grand slam in the second game.
“The weight all season had really been on Jordan,” Cain said. “We relied on her to get us out of deep trouble, but then it became contagious. And when it did, it just caught fire.”
Coleman didn’t have much of a chance to add to her total in the morning game. After a single, she was intentionally walked three times. After Cain got the first one, Kiley Ponder picked up the slack added a solo shot. Anna Snider added a single and a double and then Sofie Taylor had two singles to account for the bulk of the remainder of the offense.
But it was in the second game that the Lady Wildcats really went wild. Snider, Coleman, Mikayla Owen and Ponder all contributed long balls in the ninth meeting of the season against the Lady Wildcats.
Coleman, who earned the Class 3A tournament’s MVP honors, had definitely been shown a lot of respect this season, getting few balls to hit, and crushing the ones she did get.
All the while, though, White Plains’ coach Rachel Ford said she thought the multitude of respect for Coleman backfired on their opponents.
“I think the other hitters were getting a little frustrated that they weren’t getting any respect,” she said.
While they’d hit three in a game the day before, at least part of the feast could have had something to do with Saks not having its ace pitcher inside the circle.
Taylor West had been dealing with elbow issues previously, and then after a batted ball hit her in the first meeting, she pulled herself from the game after five innings. West pitched a two-hitter in a 3-0 win over Glencoe to set up the day’s second meeting with White Plains, but with Saks’ third straight spot in the state tournament locked up, considering all the circumstances they chose not to run her out again.
Having only one win to show for the nine meetings against White Plains, Saks coach Mike Tucker didn’t lament the dominance of its rival. Instead, he looked to what it said about the softball being played in Calhoun County and in the area.
“If you look at this regional, there were five ranked teams,” said Tucker whose Lady Wildcats were ranked seventh despite a 25-25-1 record. “… We battled injuries and so much, but I think it’s a credit to think we were thought of to be deserving of that ranking.”
White Plains boasted the highest rankings of the five, and if nothing else, it showed in nothing else put its two-day power surge.
While it all came to light in the 48-hour period, Coleman — the 3A tournament’s MVP — said it was not an overnight thing.
“It all started back in the ninth grade,” she said. “It’s the athletic P.E., doing all those work outs, lifting weights and all those things we hate.
“Well, not hate, but don’t enjoy as much.”
But they sure enjoyed the benefits on Saturday.
Bran Strickland is the sports editor for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3570 or at firstname.lastname@example.org