With the game tied at 2-2, the National Cathedral dugout was a mix of joy and nausea on Wednesday afternoon. Though they were elated to be forcing extra innings against Visitation, Eagles coach Jennifer Phelps sensed uncertainty among the younger players. “This is fun! This is why you play; it’s like a roller coaster,” she told them.
To which one of the freshmen replied: “I don’t like roller coasters.”
As the game twisted and turned, the outcome wasn’t settled after the standard seven innings. At last, in the ninth inning, junior Logan Robinson delivered an RBI at the plate and a save from the mound to end the ride in a 3-2 victory.
“This was awesome,” said Phelps. “This is the game. This is the fun bit — to go nine innings in a one-run game is fantastic. We had a bad game against Flint Hill, and all the wheels came off. To come back and battle with Episcopal and to settle down and come in for this — to have them do that is awesome.”
Robinson, one of the steady veterans on the team, had a game for the ages. The Eagles’ ace rang up 19 strikeouts while allowing just three hits in the victory. “I was just feeling the ball with my fingers really well; my pitches were working,” she said.
Though Cathedral eventually won, the Eagles fell behind in the bottom of the fourth inning when Visitation senior Sydney Love-Baker was walked to get on base. Then a base runner and a pair of sacrifices, including an RBI by sophomore Joanna Malits, created the first run of the game for a 1-0 Visitation advantage. In the bottom of the fifth, more smart base running brought senior catcher Olivia Garcia home after an errant pitch created just enough time to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead.
Despite the hole, the Eagles never gave up. They had runners in scoring position in the top of the third and fifth innings, but stranded them. Phelps stressed that they were making plays and eventually something had to pan out.
In the top of the sixth inning, Cathedral finally did it.
Freshman Priya Phillips knocked a ball into play and then provided a distraction by trying to stretch the single into a double, which allowed the tying run to knot the game at 2-2.
“We were getting our bat on the ball and getting more base runners,” Phelps said. “We just had to relax and let it come to us. The game says you will eventually put one across the plate.”
In the seventh and eighth innings, the pitchers and the defense took control as tension built.
Then, in the top of the ninth, Robinson ripped a shot at the Cubs’ shortstop, who made a diving stop and flipped the ball for a tagout at second base. Still, the play allowed a runner to come home for a 3-2 lead.
Armed with her first lead of the game, Robinson closed out the game on the mound in the bottom of the ninth to secure the win.
“I knew we were going to get it,” she said. “I knew if I just kept going out there and limited the damage when I was on defense that we would score. I trust our offense a lot more this year than in previous years, and we are really getting the bat on the ball.”
The Cubs and Eagles could still clash two more times — in the Independent School League tournament and the D.C. State Athletic Association brackets. And if those games are anything like this encounter, Phelps had advice for prospective spectators: “Bring some extra snacks for those; we are two well-matched teams.”