Raven Jackson let out a scream of excitement as her right foot landed on the home plate. The Jackson-Reed softball team’s impenetrable lead was further extended as Jackson rocked a line drive against the wall and sprinted around the base trails to get a homerun inside the park.
“I liked that we played good, basic softball,” coach David Thompson said. “We actually got a lot more hits than I thought we would.”
It did not take long for the tigers to impose their will. An eight-run first inning ended with Jackson-Reed (formerly known as Wilson) relinquishing intentional outs where the Tigers would slam a stroke but trot to dugout, so as not to run up the score. Subsequent innings offered more of the same and the game was never competitive.
Jackson, who finished with a team-high five RBI, also hit four hitless innings with eight strikeouts. She was named the game’s MVP.
The Jackson-Reeds title race seemed easy, but the Tigers’ journey included some adversity.
“We’ve actually played all this season without a batting cage on our field … because a tree branch fell on our batting cage,” Thompson said. “We’ve struggled with how to get good batting and do live pitching without a batting cage.”
The Tigers practiced using a “drop-down” cage inside the school, leaving Thompson unable to put together a complete exercise.
For Jackson, one of the Tigers’ most powerful fighters, exercising in the gym posed daily challenges.
“It’s a little difficult – you have to imagine [yourself] in the game, ”she said. “Just imagine you play.… It comes to you.”
Whatever the circumstances, the goals remained clear. The Tigers knew they were likely to win the DCIAA title, and now they have turned their attention to the DC State Athletic Association, where they will be challenged by the city’s best private school programs.
The championship game for the DCSAA tournament is scheduled for May 22, also at the Nationals’ academy.
“Our goal is to win [DCSAA] the championship, “said Thompson.” Right now, St. John’s team to fight. We hope our seeding prevents us from playing them before the championship, but we hope to play strong enough and good enough to get through to the championship and beat a St. John’s team of really high quality. ”