Horns beat Rebels 5-1
By Jonathan PleasantThe Lady Longhorns took on the Sullivan South Lady Rebels for the second time this year playing in Kingsport last Thursday evening. Having soundly beaten the Lady Rebels at home, Johnson County was looking for another easy victory. However this time around South was much tougher on the defense making it a far closer battle than it had been before.
“It was going to be whoever was going to start hitting at the right time,” said Coach Dana Smith. “It was back and forth, back and forth. It was going to be whoever got their people on first, because defensively everybody was doing ok.”
Neither side had much progress through the first three innings. South was able to push a runner to early in the second thanks to a Johnson County error in right field, but that drive was cut short by a couple of quick outs from the infield. The Lady Longhorns had a little better luck when Kelsey Duperry landed a hit at the beginning of the third and then got batted in on a hit by Cindi Eddington. Regrettably, Eddington was left on first by two following out, but her efforts did earn her an RBI and the first scoring run of the game.
Defensive efforts were key to keeping the lead, especially considering the number of times South made contact with the ball. Players like Kallie Sluder at second base were able to make just as many good plays, making a catch and a clean throw to Jayme Jennings at first or from Brianna Snyder on the mound. In fact, of the infielders it was probably Sluder that had the most luck of the game, with at least three major plays to her credit.
“This is one of the better games I’ve had in a while,” Sluder admitted. “When I have confidence I just do better overall. I had to tell myself I could do it. I just stepped up and got the ball and I believe in all my teammates. I trust everybody and as long as I trust myself I feel like I can do pretty well. This was a good game for me.”
Sluder had a pretty good day offensively as well. Coming up to bat in the fourth, Sluder drove the ball into center field and earned herself an RBI on Jayme Jennings who was already on second with an earlier double. Sluder was then bumped in herself off an equally good hit by Demi Blevins. Those two runs aside, Johnson County went on another offensive slump in the fifth and sixth but were able to put up two more in the seventh after Cindi Eddington and Michala Cretsinger both landed back to back doubles.
While five runs is no huge amount it was more than enough considering the fantastic efforts from the defense. Brianna Snyder led the Lady Longhorns from the mound ultimately pitching five strikeouts through all seven innings. Having kept the Lady Rebels off the scoreboard through the first six at bats it looked like Snyder might get her first shut out of the year. South’s persistence paid off right at the very end as a single hit eventually became a complete run, the first and only of the game.
“With both teams it was going to be the hits,” Smith said about the win. “They starting having base hits and thank goodness it was us. It was a good game. They were right in the gap and that was a good thing. I was pleased with our hitting today, especially since we didn’t do anything yesterday. Maybe it was a good thing they had the day off.”