Local coaches bestowed the honor upon the Lady Wildcats, the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s top-ranked team in the state in Class 3A, at a seeding meeting at host Donoho on Wednesday.
“We definitely have a big bull’s eye on our back and we’re going to see our opponents’ best because of that,” White Plains coach Rachel Ford said of her team’s seed.
White Plains is 21-6 overall and 7-0 against county competition, including wins against second-seeded Saks (15-6, 9-1) and fourth-seeded Oxford (18-9, 1-3).
The top three seeds, which also includes No. 3 Alexandria, will have byes into the double-elimination tournament’s second-round when it begins next Thursday at Woodland Park.
The Lady Wildcats will face the winner of next Thursday’s 6 p.m. meeting between No. 8 Ohatchee and No. 9 Wellborn. Saks will take on either No. 10 JCA or No. 7 Jacksonville and aAlexandria will face the No. 6 Pleasant Valley-No. 11 Weaver winner in the second round next Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
White Plains has gone from the underdogs, emerging seemingly out of nowhere to earn a No.1 ranking in the state last year behind key players such as pitcher Anna Snider and third baseman Jordan Coleman, to top dogs despite having a young roster.
“The team has definitely matured a lot over the course of as any team would,” Ford said. “They’ve become more poised in high-pressure situations because they’ve been in them. But let it be known, they still show their youth sometimes.”
Saks’ coach Mike Tucker was pleased with the seed his team received.
“The county tournament is important because it comes at time when you want to be playing your best,” Tucker said. “There are a lot of good teams in Calhoun County. So, you try to use it as a tool to get you ready for your area and regional tournament.”
Longtime Alexandria coach Brian Hess has a foe more daunting than the competition on the field — the prom, also set for next Saturday. If the Lady Valley Cubs reach the final, especially if it goes to the 3 p.m. “if” game, they could take to the field without many of their upper classmen.
“It might not be my varsity. It might be my J.V. out there,” Hess said. “I still have to talk to Mr. Chambless (principal Ronald Chambless) and see what he wants to do.”
Hess has played this game before and knows how to play it.
“It puts me in a bind but it’s not a battle worth fighting,” he said. “I’ve lost it before. That’s something you don’t even mess with, especially with seniors.”
Nick Birdsong covers prep sports for The Star.
He can be reached at 256-235-3575.
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