Longhorns win big over Happy Valley last week
By Jonathan PleasantFollowing their first conference win against Sullivan North earlier in the week, the Johnson County Longhorns were able to pull off another amazing win at home Friday against the Happy Valley Warriors. Having already been handed a tough defeat from the Warriors earlier in the season, the mercy ruled victory was a satisfying change of pace that saw nearly every batter in the lineup get the chance to prove their worth.
Judd Hammons was possibly one of the most successful hitters, turning each of his four at bats into runs. Yet, the biggest surprise of the night had to be the amazing showing from senior Jon Vannoy who nailed a huge home run into left field in his first at bat and then wrapped up the evening with two more long range doubles. “It was an awesome win for our seniors for them to go into the weekend, to go into their prom and enjoy that coming off a big win on the field,” said assistant coach Nicholas Perkins. “It was a career day for Jon Vannoy with three hits, his first career varsity home run, and two doubles that were both almost out of the ball park. It was a fun day. We scored a lot of runs and I would like to think we’re improving.”
The biggest inning for the Longhorns came early in the second. Initially tied with Happy Valley at 1-1, Jon Vannoy led off with his huge homer and set the pace for the rest of the inning. Ryan Smith and Jacob Henson were the next two to take base off of walks along with Judd Hammons, and with the bases loaded, Jon’s little brother Brandon Vannoy made a huge hit of his own that gave him second and two RBIs.
The younger Vannoy was batted in himself from a huge hit by senior Daniel Helm, who went three for four on the night and back to his old self at the plate. “It was a good start to something that could really explode, something that could really go great,” Helm said after the game. “Pre-season and during the season is important but its not as important as when post-season comes. That’s what everybody looks at, tournaments. I think we’re stepping up to something really, really good if we can just keep it up. Today everybody hit the ball; Mahala did good on the mound. We’re finally starting to pick up speed. I though I did good and I hope that starts something off and I can keep it going. I know pitching played a really big part, but of course hitting has to come through.”
Ryan Mahala was once again on the pitchers mound throwing out 60 strikes with four strikeouts. Although it wasn’t quite the game he had against North earlier in the week, just having the senior pitcher on the field seems to give his team a little more confidence, as Coach Perkins pointed out.
“Every time Ryan Mahala takes the hill for us we know we have a great chance to win the baseball game and nothing has changed this year as far as that goes,” Perkins said. “When he takes the mound we know we have a great chance to win the game, and I’m sure that confidence affects the whole ball club. We’re just looking for someone to consistently step up behind Ryan. Andy Woods gave us good starts in 2012 and 2013 but we’re looking for consistency. It’s the same thing with Jacob Henson, same thing with Jon Vannoy.”
Woods did his part in the team’s win over Happy Valley as well; landing a double in the second that eventually became the eighth run of the night. Now ahead by seven, the Warriors were in the position that the Longhorns have been in several times this season. The third didn’t go quite as successful, with only two runs from Judd Hammons and Brandon Vannoy, but this was still enough to offset Happy Valley’s single gain, without even counting the huge sweep in the second.
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