BRANTLEY, Ala. — It’s the same Alex Wilcox, of that there is no doubt.
There’s the same sheepish grin, the same shy nature that all but screams its presence.
Her Brantley softball teammates lampoon her just as they do anyone else wearing the green and white uniform, targeting whatever idiosyncrasy they fancy.
Wilcox, she admits, makes for an easy target, but she welcomes the playful ridicule because it comes from lifelong friends with whom she has hugged, cried and dogpiled.
Cancer, at least for the moment, may have taken her shoulder-length brown hair.
Her fight against it — whether it was the hour-long drives to Montgomery for her chemotherapy treatments to the vomiting that often followed — didn’t change her.
“I have played every game, even when I was going through (the chemotherapy), unless I was sick,” Wilcox said, sitting inside Brantley’s dugout during a practice this week.
“If I was sick, I’d sit in the dugout or I’d sit outside in a chair,” Wilcox said. “It got bad sometimes, and I didn’t need to be in here.”
The 16-year-old finished her chemotherapy last month and missed just 10 games this season for the state power Bulldogs.
For her next trip to Montgomery, she plans on bringing her teammates with her — and it won’t involve needles, wooziness or sudden bowel regurgitation.
Brantley (30-9), the two-time defending Class 1A champion, starts play Thursday in the AHSAA’s South Regional in Gulf Shores. The state tournament is next week at Montgomery’s Lagoon Park.
“She didn’t talk about the chemo too much, but I know it was tough,” sophomore pitcher Leanna Johnson said. “I don’t know if she said anything at all, but we were always here for her.”
The Bulldogs, Wilcox said, have shown their support in ways they may not be aware.
They haven’t spared her from the jokes, some of which can be quite biting, that bind any team.
“I would always wear a hat, but I still had a ponytail,” Wilcox said. “It got so thin that I couldn’t do anything with it.”
There were no warning signals given to her teammates, no hints at what was about to happen.
Wilcox, a junior outfielder who has verbally committed to Mississippi State, simply hit school one day with a new look: all scalp.
“She just showed up and it was all gone,” Brantley coach Cindy Hawthorne said. “But, through all of this, you couldn’t tell any difference in her. She was still the same person.”
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