TROY — After each of White Plains High’ two wins in the Class 3A South Central Regional on Friday, Wildcats head coach Rachel Ford’s son, 3-year-old Cooper, ran onto the field to celebrate with the team.
Following its championship-clinching victory over Glencoe 6-0 on Saturday afternoon, Cooper ran into his mom’s arms again, and was in the middle of the postgame huddle of the Wildcats. After the team took pictures with their regional championship plaque, several players -- including shortstop Sophia Taylor, Carley and Shelby Wood -- picked up and played with him like they were all his older sisters. The moment showed how close this team is to its coach, teammates and a valuable fan such as Cooper.
“This championship means even more because of how close this team is,” said Taylor. “With it being my senior year, this really means a lot to me.
“This team really loves each other, so there isn’t any drama. We are all one big family.”
Next for White Plains (38-5) is the Class 3A state tournament at Lagoon Park in Montgomery. The Wildcats will play their opener Thursday at 9 a.m.
Ford and Wildcats rode the arms of Anna Snider and Amber Greenwood during the tournament. They combined to allow only one run through 21 innings, and four dating back to the Class 3A, Area 8 tournament.
“I think our pitchers are some of the best around,” Ford said. “However, if it wasn’t for our defense, we wouldn’t be in this situation.”
Greenwood, playing second base against Glencoe, made an athletic catch while running to her right, keeping the Yellow Jackets off the board in the inning and Anna Snider’s shutout intact.
“(Amber Greenwood) made a game-saving performance play,” Ford said. “With a line drive over her head, she caught it.
“Our pitches may be shutting them down, but the defense is getting behind them, too.”
The game was a standoff, with White Plains leading 1-0 until the fifth inning. That’s when the Wildcats erupted for five runs off five hits and two Glencoe errors.
With two on, Carley Wood sent a double to left field to score Morgan Cobb and Snider to start the scoring.
“When (Carley Wood) hit that rope, it set the tempo of the inning,” Ford said. “After she did that, it gave our hitters confidence to go up there and attack the ball, because they knew they could do it too.”
Cobb finished with two hits and two runs scored. Snider added two doubles, one RBI and one run scored. Greenwood had two hits and one run scored. Shelby Wood hit one single and scored a run. In addition to her double, Carley Wood hit a single and scored a run.
“Winning this tournament gives us confidence we can compete with anyone,” Cobb said.
This will be the fourth straight year White Plains will play in the state tournament, and Ford feels this team could be special.
“I think things will be different, because our team has a different attitude,” she said. “In big games, we don’t seem to get as tense and stay loose, which really helps our play.”