Saks pitcher Taylor West and White Plains pitcher Anna Snider battled for control of the game, and in the end, White Plains won -- like it had four times this year.
“I knew it was going to come down to someone stepping up for us,” Lady Wildcats coach Rachel Ford said.“We always know that coming into games with them.”
This time it was Snider, who handled Saks on the mound and added just enough at the plate, helping White Plains to a 2-0 victory in the Class 3A South Central Regional winners' bracket finals. The win clinched a spot in the state tournament in Montgomery next week. Saks also earned a spot, defeating third-ranked Glencoe 7-1 later in the day in the elimination bracket finals.
“I don’t know how to explain it,” Snider said. “It just one of those days it was there.”
In the fifth inning with the game scoreless, Morgan Cobb led off with a single for White Plains. After Ryleigh Randall entered to pinch run, Snider hit a bomb to center field, clearing the temporary fence.
“I was really just trying to not overthink it. Taylor did a really good job in the last at-bat and struck me out looking and I had to whip that last at-bat clean,”Snider said. “When I hit it I thought it had a chance and when I looked back I thought it was gone.
“It all happened so fast.”
Following the home run, Snider faced the minimum nine batters in the circle for the final three innings. For the game, she allowed three hits and struck out six.
“I could go on and on about Anna. She had the game of the year today, shutting them down on the mound and obviously the huge hit. I’ll always remember it,” Ford said. “I know she’s capable of this on a daily basis, but sometimes nerves can get to you and she handled it like a pro. I like to see her like that.”
West allowed only five hits while striking out 10 batters.
Heads weren’t hanging low in Saks’ dugout afterward, however. Saks coach Michelle Lively emphasized the team still had stakes -- a win in the elimination bracket would put the Lady Wildcats in the state tournament.
“The girls felt like they worked hard enough that they deserved to be here and actually the superintendent (Joe Dyar) text me and said to not worry about that loss and to get the team back up,” Lively said. “We’ve been fighting since day one.”
Although Saks put only together three hits against Glencoe, offensive production didn’t lack. The Lady Wildcats followed up scoring two runs in the first inning with three in the fourth after Kenrda Prater singled, Daisy Cornejo and Tayler Teague walked, and Daja Johnson reached on an error.
While West held her own on the mound, allowing three hits and striking out nine batters, she added to her own cause in the sixth inning with a two-run home run to center.
“Just like I said yesterday, you have to hit to win and we’re hitting right now,” Lively said. “You’ve got to go up there looking to hit aggressively and doing the same swings. We can’t wait.”
The 3A state tournament begins Friday and concludes Saturday. White Plains will play the North Central second qualifier at 10:30 a.m. and Saks will play the first North Central qualifier at noon. Games are played at Montgomery's Lagoon Park.
No. 4 Ragland 18, Fayetteville 6, five innings — The Purple Devils had little trouble sweeping its third opponent in the South Central Regional to advance to next week’s state tournament.
After leading 4-3 following the first inning, Ragland blew the game open with nine runs in the second and added two runs in the third, behind the hitting of Kailey Echols and Lexi Goodwin, who both had three hits.
Fayetteville attempted to make several comebacks, which only extended the game two innings. Leah Byers, Makenley Oliver and Carley Echols each had two hits in the win.
Ragland will play the North Central second qualifier Friday at 9 a.m.
Billingsley 6, Faith Christian 5 — The Lady Lions struggled in the later innings after picking up a large lead early, mostly behind the hitting of Peyton Camp, who recorded three hits and two runs.
Faith scored two in the top of the first and added three more in the fourth to break a tie and take a 5-2 lead. However, Billingsley responded with its back against the wall, scoring four runs on two hits.
Faith received multi-hit games from Madelyn Adams and Alexis Rogers. Adams also scored twice.
Brandon Miller covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575 or follow him on Twitter @bmiller_star