Things started with a perfect game against third-seeded Pleasant Valley — ranked fourth in Class 2A — in a six-inning game. West fanned 10 in the outing. Along with being quite a feat, it was her sixth no-hitter on the year. She said her rise ball and changeup was working.
“I could tell it in her eyes all day during school,” Saks coach Michelle Lively said. “There was something about tonight and this is her favorite kind of weather. She was in a groove.”
West has thrown 20 innings in three outings in the Calhoun County Tournament, not allowing a run and striking out 35 of the 66 batters she’s faced.
Then with a trip to the finals on the line against Oxford, West allowed four hits and a walk, but made things happen with her bat.
She hit a two-run home run to break a tie in the fourth and a two-run single the following inning. In the end, it was all Saks needed to win 5-0.
“I get these feelings and I was just feeling it,” West said. “I was thinking I just had to get a hit.”
The Lady Wildcats are back in the finals for the second straight year after falling to White Plains last season. Saks has not won the county championship since 2008.
The Lady Wildcats have defeated the three remaining teams in the tournament — White Plains, Oxford and Alexandria — this season.
“I’m pretty confident with the defense we’re playing and obviously Taylor,” Lively said. “But anybody can win on any given night.”
Oxford 6, Alexandria 1 — Oxford scored six runs in the second inning and cruised behind the pitching of Sydney Williams to get past Alexandria. Williams earned the win after throwing a complete-game three-hitter. She struck out five.
Oxford’s six runs came off four hits and an error. Stewart Gail Chase, Haley Lyner, Jordyn Skinner and Makenzie Trantham recorded hits for the Lady Yellow Jackets. Alexandria received two hits and a run from Kaylee Golden and a hit from Maddy Shanks.
Saks 4, Pleasant Valley 0 — Taylor West threw a perfect game for Saks in six innings, allowing the Lady Wildcats to cruise to the tournament semifinal. West struck out 10 Pleasant Valley batters.
Saks scored two runs in the third and fifth innings behind Tiffany Springer, who went 3-for-3 with two runs. Kendra Prater, Raegan Nunez and West each singled and had an RBI.
Saks 5, Oxford 0 — Taylor West did it all for Saks, throwing her third shutout of the tournament and raking in four RBIs.
Saks’ first two runs came from a home run by West in the fourth inning. She singled in two more in the following inning. Tiffany Springer, Tayler Teague and Kendra Prater each had a hit.
Oxford received hits two hits from Stewart Gail Chase and Sydney Williams. Brittany Higgins added a hit. The Lady Yellow Jackets play the winner of White Plains-Alexandria at 5:30 Friday. Saks plays that winner at 7 p.m. in the championship.
Piedmont 16, Anniston 3 — Anniston scored first, but Piedmont scored often.
Rachel Baggett led Piedmont, going 4-for-4, and Peggy Ridley was 3-for-3. Savannah Tant, Brittany Holloway, Sarah Garner, Kaitlyn Ridley and Madison Pike all went 2-for-3.
Garner hit a home run. She and Tant each had two RBIs.
Piedmont pitcher Kendall Pressley struck out four batters en route to the win. Anniston’s Tamara Wilson fanned two batters.
Wilson was one of four Anniston batters who had one hit apiece. Nekola Caver, Brittany Gordon and LaTasha Jackson were the other three.
Wellborn 6, Ohatchee 5 — Tameria Mackey hit a two-out single and later scored the winning run on an error in the sixth inning.
Mackey moved to third when Wellborn erred on a ball hit by Laurel Hambric, and Taylor Houck put the ball in play to plate Mackey.
Mackey and Alyssa Brooks each finished 2-for-3.
Jessica Browning and Leighton Sparks each went 2-for-3 to lead Ohatchee. Browning also hit an apparent home run, but umpires ruled it rolled under the temporary fence.
White Plains 10, Weaver 2 — Despite No. 10 Weaver picking up a run in the top of the first, top-seed White Plains dominated the remaining four innings after scoring three in the bottom half of the first.
As Ashlyn Hinton settled in on the mound, allowing three hits and two runs in five innings, White Plains was led offensively by Anna Snider, Morgan Cobb and Kira Kihlstadius, who each had two hits.
White Plains added three runs in the third and fourth innings to blow the game open. Weaver’s Hannah Pugh and Rayne Beck each had a hit and run scored.
Jacksonville 7, Faith Christian 1 — Fifth-seed Jacksonville scored four runs early against No. 11 Faith Christian and coasted behind the strong pitching of Katie Jennings. Jennings earned the win after allowing a run on three hits over five innings. Jennings, Raegan Stallings, Ashley Clingan, Kierra Davis and Chametris Young each had a hit.
Faith’s lone run came in the third inning off an error. Peyton Camp, Caroline Holt and Alexis Rogers each recorded hits for Faith.
Wellborn 3, Piedmont 2 — Wellborn’s Taylor Houck hit a 2-run home run in the fifth inning to put the Panthers ahead for good, and Brooke Angle struck out three batters en route to eliminating Piedmont.
Piedmont got two-hit performances from Peggy Ridley, Kayleigh Williams, Brittany Holloway and Madison Pike. Williams struck out four batters.
White Plains 9, Jacksonville 1 — Eighth-grader Ashlyn Hinton threw the complete game for White Plains, striking out one batter and allowing no earned runs en route to eliminating Jacksonville.
Sophia Taylor went 3-for-3 and Carly Wood went 2-for-4.
For Jacksonville, Chametris Young went 4-for-4, and Darian Martin went 3-for-3.
Alexandria 5, Wellborn 2 — Alexandria opened the game up in the sixth inning with four runs to regain the lead against Wellborn behind the hitting of Kaitlyn Rhodes, Erin Farlow and Maddy Shanks, who had two hits each.
Wellborn, which jumped out to a 2-0 early lead, was led by Megan Butcher, who went 2-for-3 with two RBI.
Alexandria will play White Plains Friday in the elimination round at 4 p.m.
White Plains 6, Pleasant Valley 5 — White Plains broke a 4-4 tie with two runs in the bottom of the fifth and held on as the 80-minute time limit expired in the bottom of the sixth.
The Wildcats’ fifth saw Mikayla Owen single home a run, then later score on an error off a ball hit by Carly Wood.
Anna Snider and Lauren Mueller recorded two hits apiece, with Snider hitting a triple and double.
Snider also came on in relief in the fourth inning and allowed one hit and struck out one batter en route to the victory. Amber Greenwood and Anslyn Hinton combined with Snider to allow six hits.
Owen, the center fielder, made the fielding play of the game with a diving catch in left-center field in the third inning.
Pleasant Valley got two-hit performances from Tiffany Williams, Jordan Moorer and Tori Shepard, and Kara Perry’s home run to right-center field was the lone hit off Snider.
Sports Writer Brandon Miller: 256-235-3575. On Twitter @bmiller_star.