The Eagles’ senior ace has topped 100 strikeouts in three consecutive seasons, won Gatorade D.C. Softball Player of the Year honors twice and led her team to a championship in the inaugural D.C. State Athletic Association softball tournament last year.
But at the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy in Southeast on Saturday, the power pitcher’s signature grimace preceded wild pitches and dangerously high riseballs in addition to a typical barrage of strikes.
National Cathedral beat Georgetown Visitation, 5-3, in eight innings to capture its second DCSAA title in as many years. Ing was named MVP, but she had her defense to thank.
The Eagles won because the hurler’s defense protected her in crucial moments, allowing them to topple the team that had bested them in the regular season and the conference tournament.
“I think this is probably the best defensive game we’ve had all season,” Ing said.
“It means a lot. It means I have to throw fewer pitches. It means my confidence goes up when a ball is hit.”
The Eagles (10-4) led 3-2 when Ing started the bottom of the sixth inning by walking Juliette Lewis and giving up a single to Allie Clark. Cubs outfielder Amanda Pierce made contact, but National Cathedral shortstop Sarah Lipson fielded the liner and set up the play of the game.
Lipson threw the runner out at first, and first baseman Ellie Frank chucked the ball to catcher Georgia Trotter, the third catcher National Cathedral has used this season. Trotter blocked the plate and received the ball as Lewis arrived, holding her ground and protecting the lead.
“I think it was really symbolic for the game,” Trotter said. “They were kind of testing it a little bit, and I had to show that I was going to be strong behind the plate and that this was not going to be an easy game.”
Visitation (16-2) tied the game when Clarke stole home on a wild pitch, but Trotter’s play at the plate kept the contest alive.
After an uneventful seventh frame, Ing led off the eighth with a hard hit single. Sophomore Natalia Kapani followed with another single that sent Ing sliding into second base, where the Cubs bobbled the ball. Ing noticed the error, hopped to her feet and raced to score the run that provided the winning margin.
Every out in the bottom of the eighth inning was put in play by the Cubs. Second baseman Margaret Dent and Lipson each threw out runners at first. Sophomore center fielder Nicole Nazario secured a high fly ball for the final out.
“We really wanted to just give this last championship to [Ing],” Nazario said. “We knew that we could beat them.”