Lady Longhorns gain valuable experience in tourney
By Jonathan PleasantThe Lady Longhorns made the long trip down to Meigs County, Tennessee last week to play in one of several scheduled tournaments this season. Located between Knoxville and Chattanooga, the event gave the Lady Longhorns a unique opportunity to play against different levels of talent and get some extremely valuable time on the field.
“Overall I was pretty satisfied with some of the things we did,” said head Coach Dana Smith. “Defensively we’ve been doing better. But that’s because we’re so young I guess, and a lack of time on the field, which is what they need. They are getting that time on the field through trial by fire, by being thrown in. We’re down three players, which takes us down to 13 total right now. That’s what we’re playing with. Its very challenging, but this bunch is really good about getting along with each other and supporting each other.”
Two of those three injuries came during this tournament taking both the Longhorn’s primary and secondary catchers out of the lineup for the next few weeks. As a direct result, Coach Smith was forced to initiate some changes in position, but with several very adaptable players on the team hopefully the transition will go smoothly considering the stained circumstances. Sophomore Megan Walter, who played the catcher position last season, was the first to have a mishap, injuring her hip, only to have replacement catcher Kourtney Tolley go out in a later game with trouble in her elbow.
“Megan was at the plate and I don’t know why the girl took her leg out from under her, but when she did she pushed Megan’s hip backward and we lost her at that point,” Smith said. “Then Kourtney had to come in and catch and when she did she overused her elbow. We ended up losing her and then Haley Miller caught the last four games. Haley hasn’t caught in two and a half years basically, when she caught JV. She started out her freshman year playing left field, and then went to third base last year. Whatever I need her to do I can count on her to do. She had to catch for us but she’s my first baseman, so what I did was to move Kristen Roark from right field to first base because she played first base on JV last year. This team is really good at going with the flow. They know that at any given time we’re liable to do anything.”
Johnson County kicked off pool play on Friday night, taking on Bradley County and Midway. The tournament had three divisions designated Gold, Orange, and Black.
Unfortunately both games were losses and with only one win against Sequatchie High School; the Lady Longhorns were left in the Black Division. The Bradley County game was fairly close, with Johnson County gaining six runs to Bradley’s seven, one of which was a home run by freshman Jayme Jennings. Jennings then went on to gain a second home run, her fourth for the season, off of Sequatchie, giving the Lady Longhorns their first win in the tournament.
Speaking about the offense, Smith noted Jennings huge contribution. “Jayme is our clean up hitter. She’s got power and she knows how to use it. It’s just a matter of having her put the bat on the ball all the time,” Smith said. Brianna Snyder and Hope Nelson trade off on pitching throughout the weekend, including a five-strikeout game against Sequowah for Snyder and a four-strikeout game against Sequatchie for Nelson. Despite the rough early start, game time Saturday greatly improved with a 6-2 wins over Sequowah, and a tough eighth inning second match up against Sequatchie for the Black Division championship. Even much larger and more challenging teams like Reha County gave the Lady Longhorns some much-needed experience, leaving Coach Smith with an optimistic view of the tournament.
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