As she rounded third and headed for home, Wilson shortstop Hanna Gage Scribner entered the long shadow that had started to cover the softball field at Nationals Youth Baseball Academy in Southeast Washington on Tuesday afternoon. As she crossed the plate, her teammates trickled out of the dugout for handshakes.
It wasn’t a walk-off win, exactly. But the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association mercy rule meant that the game was over and Wilson was league champion once again. Gage Scribner’s inside-the-park home run gave the Tigers a 14-3 win over Dunbar in six innings, an emphatic finish to another dominant year in the DCIAA.
“Taking care of business [in the conference] is for sure something we talk about,” sophomore pitcher Brooke McKalip said. “It’s almost an expectation for us at this point.”
Tuesday’s victory gave Wilson its seventh straight DCIAA championship, and it was secured early in the game. First baseman Kenadi Burnett led off the first inning with a standup triple, and the Tigers never slowed from there, scoring in all but one inning.
“That’s one thing about this team: that they know how to dig deep,” Coach David Thompson said. “We just stayed calm today. They didn’t get all anxious or anything.”
Wilson had beaten the Crimson Tide, 21-3, earlier this season as part of an undefeated conference campaign.
Dunbar’s best chance to upend, or at least threaten, the status quo came in the second inning. After holding Wilson to just one run in the first, the Crimson Tide loaded the bases with nobody out. But McKalip forced two ground balls, and the Tigers got the out at home each time. The sophomore finished off the inning with a strikeout, quashing what the potential momentum-shifting rally.
McKalip, who had been sick and missed school Monday, struck out 10 in a steady performance.
“This game is very important to me,” McKalip said. “There was no doubt in my mind I was going to play today. I made it my mission to get better.”
After the game, long after Dunbar had packed up and left the field, the Tigers sat in a circle in left field. Now that they had the title wrapped up, they discussed the changes they would have to make for their next postseason challenge: the D.C. State Athletic Association tournament.
“If we had played a better team (Tuesday) we wouldn’t have done well,” Thompson said. “If we play like that in states we won’t do well. So we talked a lot about just playing good fundamental softball.”