DAVIS — Holding the regional championship trophy over her head, Jolie Romine took a jog around the base path. Starting at first base, she made her way to second and then to third, causing a senior teammate to laugh as she gave an interview along the first-base line.
Romine, who concluded her journey near third base, provided an example of the unbridled joy Davis players felt now that they'd accomplished a goal.
Brinlee Dulaney drove in three RBIs to help Davis beat Prague 9-7 Thursday at Davis Sports Complex, punching its ticket to the Class 3A state tournament.
“(I'm feeling) pumped,” said Dylen Johnson, one of Davis' seven seniors. “That was exciting.”
Lydia Birkes wanted to do backflips, she said. Davis' senior outfielder didn't attempt one because she recognized her limitations — and realized what the Lady Wolves can accomplish next week.
Davis (27-4) coach Jeff Parnell expressed pride in his players, saying they deserve this opportunity.
Dulaney went 3 for 4, including a two-run single in the sixth that provided the necessary insurance runs.
“She definitely stepped up,” Romine said. “When (Joden Snyder) got hurt, she came in and helped us out in the end.”
Parnell inserted Dulaney at first base after Snyder had to leave the game with a leg injury. Lynsey Martin moved to second from center field, Birkes took her spot while Alexis Ball moved from first base to right field.
“Our motto this year has been 'We before me,'” Dulaney said. “That's what we've been living by, so when I saw a job, I said, 'I'm going to get up here. I'm going to do this.' Thankfully, I did it.”
Davis' win didn't come easily. Senior pitcher Macie Buckaloo and her defense stranded eight Prague runners in scoring position, including three in the fifth frame. Snyder had the assist on the groundout to end it, helping Davis maintain its 7-4 lead.
“We before me,” players in the dugout chanted on the pitch before Buckaloo and Co. escaped the inning. The players in the dugout abandoned that chant before the game's final pitch, opting for encouraging words to their senior pitcher, who, in the first frame, opened the scoring with an RBI double. Johnson hit a sacrifice fly.
In the next inning, Davis strung together three two-out hits: Romine's game-tying solo home run, Snyder's single and Buckaloo's go-ahead single.
Prague (23-12) coach Chad Smith told his pitcher twice that she made a good pitch to Romine; the first instance was obscured by the Lady Wolves' celebration.
In the third, Ball's squeeze bunt drove in Johnson, who led off the frame with a hard-hit single past Prague's third baseman.
In the fourth, Dulaney's RBI single drove in Sydney Martin, who drew a two-out walk. Johnson followed, also drawing a walk. Johnson had to stop in the base path to allow Dulaney's ball to pass in front of her, past Prague's second baseman, who dove to her left.
Johnson scored on the play.
Dulaney delivered the decisive single in the sixth, scoring Martin — who singled and stole second base — and Johnson, who reached when Prague's catcher dropped her bunt that the Lady Wolves' senior popped up.
When the OSSAA decides the Lady Wolves' next opponent, what will matter most is that Davis persevered, its slogan and season intact.
Buckaloo embraced coach Rebecca Burrows, and her father near the dugout after the win.
“They responded real well,” Parnell said. “That's the competitive side of these girls. They hate to lose. That's just the Davis tradition. That's what I like about Davis: We try to produce winners and we're competitors.”