Losing the Interhigh softball championship wasn't a laughing matter for Wilson's girls team, but for Eastern, this season proved a lot of fun and games.
For example: left fielder Angela Holley tried to steal second in the third inning of the tournament championship game, but was tagged out. Instead of Eastern's coach, Pat Shepard, and her players getting upset, they shrugged it off with a laugh and a joke.
It was easy for the Ramblers to joke around, especially when they held a 10-2 lead. The Ramblers were already regular season champions and were about to finish a perfect 12-0 campaign with a 14-6 victory over Wilson.
Anyway, Holley had the last laugh by hitting a fifth-inning triple to give Eastern a 14-3 lead.
Many Interhigh coaches had expected a H.D. Woodson-Wilson showdown in the Interhigh tournament, a repeat of the 1984 finish. Woodson had won three straight championships.
But Eastern was the runaway leader all season. Most of the its games didn't go the full seven innings as Eastern's abundant offense continually stretched beyond the league's two-hour time limit. A game against Roosevelt lasted only three innings as the Ramblers won, 23-3.
Eastern had numerous heroes throughout the season. Against Wilson, Donna Thomas hit a grand slam in the first inning for a 4-1 lead. In the fourth, she doubled home Tracy Manning and pitcher Helen Turner. Manning is playing her third sport, having made all-Interhigh in basketball and volleyball. "I am better at softball . . . I just like the sport," said Manning.
Turner excelled at the plate as well as on the mound. Earlier this spring against Wilson, she went five for five at bat, scored five runs and stole four bases. On the mound, she struck out seven and yielded no walks. In the championship game, she made several key fielding plays.
Eastern should be just as good next spring.
"It feels great that we beat everybody," said first baseman Roslyn Durham. "We are losing only one player from the team."
"We never had a team like this before," said Daisy Williams, the only senior.
"The key to this team was that we didn't fuss with each other when we made a mistake. We just made up for it," said outfielder Quanic Smith.
"After we beat everybody once, we knew that when we got to the playoffs we could beat them even worse the second time," Smith added.
Leading 14-3, the Ramblers yielded a pair of runs in the sixth and one more in the seventh. But right fielder Natasha Boyd made the final out and Eastern finally could celebrate.
"It's a wonderful feeling," said Shepard, "I am happier for my girls. I have been to the mountain top before. I wanted them to experience that feeling.
"Our batting was very powerful and that's what won all 12 games for us," she added. Williams went into playoffs batting .600 for Eastern.
? "Next year," predicted Durham, "we are going to do the same thing we did this year."