The Washington School softball team’s 4-3 home victory over Magnolia Heights Academy Tuesday night was only a regular season win, but it sure did not feel like it.
The Chiefs from Magnolia Heights, the defending state champions, have had the Lady Generals’ (10-2) number for so many years that those on the Washington School side had basically stopped counting.
“I don’t know when beat them last. It has been years,” said Washington School fifth year head coach Hunter Palasini.
But, on Tuesday night, led by senior ace pitcher Allie Stevens, this year’s Lady Generals stood their ground, never lost their cool, and proved that they belong right up there with the best team’s in the state.
Highlighted by a two-run double laced by Haleigh Cingolani deep into left field, Washington scored four runs in the bottom of the third inning. Stevens then held Magnolia Heights scoreless until the top of the seventh inning when the Chief batters finally came alive to make things interesting. The Chiefs had already scored three runs in the seventh inning and had the winning run in scoring position when Stevens showed her mettle by, remaining calm, and getting the last Magnolia Heights batter too gently pop out to end the game.
“I was like, ‘we just need an out. We don’t need some special stuff. We just need an out,’” Stevens said. “I have pitched against them a lot, and I have never beat them. Today’s game tells me that if you keep practicing you can accomplish anything.”
Stevens went seven innings, striking out two and walking none to pick up the win.
Said Palasini, “Tonight proves that we got a shot. We can beat anyone we play against. We have good leaders, and we can play with anyone. We have a great dominant pitcher, and when we play great defense and execute offensively, we have a chance to beat anybody that we step on the field with. That is one of the best team’s in the state we just beat, if not the best team in the state.”
Washington’s Suzi Paige Vaughan, Meri Madison George, Ellie Zepponi and Haleigh Cingolani scored the Lady General runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Along with Cingolani’s big double, Allie Stevens and Mary Glenn Hooker each had an RBI in the fourth.
Cingolani said she was just trying to make good contact before she connected on her big double in the fourth inning.
“I was thinking that I don’t need to do anything too big, and I just need to get the bat on the ball. I could tell as soon as it came off the bat that I hit it good. It was a fastball outside,” Cingolani said. “I am so excited. I didn’t think we could beat them, but we did. It has been years since we beat them.”
Washington’s Landry Lyles, who made a number of fine defensive plays at third base, also had a hit in the game.