MONTGOMERY — White Plains’ day at the state softball tournament started with the shock of seeing one of the Wildcats’ best players bloodied.
The day ended with all-too-familiar weather woes.
Bottom line? Emma Jones is fine, and the Wildcats remain alive after beating Dale County 9-6 and falling to North Jackson 5-0 at Lagoon Park.
Their elimination-bracket game against Good Hope, a rematch of their West Central Regional winners-bracket final, is postponed until Saturday at 9 a.m. Given the option, both coaches chose postponement amid the second lightning delay and moderate-but-unrelenting rain.
“It’s par for the course,” White Plains coach Rachel Ford said. “Regional was rough. This has been rough. … This kind of break has helped us, because we were pretty down after that (North Jackson) game.
“Hopefully, we’ll come back with a lot more energy and enthusiasm and ready to do something big tomorrow.”
White Plains must win five straight games to win a state title.
Friday’s best moment saw the Wildcats rally around Jones … and Jones return to action after losing a tooth and sustaining a cut bad enough to require three stitches.
Jones was caught stealing in the fifth inning against Dale County and came up signaling for help after contact with shortstop Shelby Allen.
“Once I got there, I mean, it’s hard to judge, if they’re kneeling down in front of the base or not,” Jones said. “You don’t know if they’re blocking it or not.
“But the time I started to dive, I noticed her, so I just kind of tucked. When I did, her knees were collapsed, and I smacked into her knees.”
Jones’ face mask cut her chin open, she said. Her tooth went through her lip.
“Blood was going everywhere,” she said, estimating the pain a “solid seven” on a 10 scale.
As an Encore Rehabilitation trainer worked with Jones in the Wildcats’ dugout, Jones, who started the game at shortstop but had relieved starting pitcher Hannah Fortenberry, kept asking score and count.
“Coach Ford told me, ‘You get cleaned up. You know I love you, and you’re more important than this game to me,’” Jones said.
Sophomore Reece Roberts worked the bottom of the fifth inning and two batters into the sixth, preserving a lead for White Plains until Jones returned to the circle with a large bandage covering her right jaw and part of her chin.
“Reece Roberts did great, and Emma Jones, she was a warrior,” Ford said. “She didn’t want to be out of the game. She showed how tough she really was.”
White Plains took the lead with a seven-run fourth inning and never lost it. Jones left Lagoon Park to get stitches then returned to play in the North Jackson game.
“I just can’t brag about my team enough on that first game,” Ford said, “to fight through that adversity and find a way to win.”