By Dillon Mullan and Gabe Hiatt; WASHINGTON POST
St. John’s senior Alexandra DeGrouchy measured the accomplishment in adrenaline. As her eighth inning walk-off home run came back to Earth on April 6, she could feel it coursing through the whole team.
The Cadets had earned their first Washington Catholic Athletic Conference victory and scored a shocking upset in the process, dealing three-time defending conference champion St. Mary’s Ryken its first loss of the season. DeGrouchy put St. John’s on her back on offense and as a pitcher — she scored the game’s first run on a single from sophomore AnnaBella Ronca and struck out 12 batters.
“We couldn’t believe what we pulled off,” said DeGrouchy, who is hitting .408 on the year. “It was just an amazing feeling, and I’ll never forget it.”
Knights’ lone loss of the season — and a 3-2 win over 17-time WCAC champion O’Connell last week, the Cadets have proven they can compete with the conference’s elite.
With a 7-7 league record and a 10-0 mercy rule loss to Elizabeth Seton on Tuesday, St. John’s has shown it is still a work in progress in Coach Heather Geldart’s second season leading the team after joining the Cadets as an assistant three years ago.
“I think it’s an acknowledgment of potential. I think our girls know how good they can be,” Field said. “They realize that any team, regardless of reputation, no matter how good or how flawless they are, they can still be beat.”
DeGrouchy said she can see the team culture shifting in its work ethic.
“We’ve had players when I was a freshman that they just don’t put the time and effort that these players do now. I can’t ask for anything better,” she said. “I think we’re like a family. Everybody gets along. Everybody makes jokes. Even on a day like [Tuesday] when we’re getting down, we can still make jokes about it.”
After splitting the regular season series with O’Connell, St. John’s traveled to St. Mary’s Ryken Wednesday with the opportunity to claim a sweep.
In their regular season finale at home, the Cadets have a chance to avenge a 12-4 loss to McNamara . Once the WCAC tournament begins, St. John’s knows it has a good reason to get excited.
“I think we just need to come back to our game and know that we can do it,” said Ronca, who hits third for the Cadets. “I think we have a bright future ahead of us.”