Blair headed to Tusculum to cheer

Caleigh Blair is shown signing with the Tusculum Pioneers. Front Row: Roger Blair III, Breana Blair, Caleigh Blair and Stacey Blair. Back Row: Coaches Michelle Walters and Casey Southerland. Photo by Tim Chambers

By Tim Chambers
Sports Editor
TomahawkSportsEditor@gmail.com

One of the most versatile athletes in the 2018 Johnson County High School graduating class has decided to take her talents to Tusculum College next season. Caleigh Blair cast her lot to cheer for the Pioneers next fall. Tusculum is well known for its successful football and basketball programs, which definitely should be to Blair’s liking. She cheered for the Longhorns’ football team that won 11 straight games this past season and for the boy’s basketball team that logged 22 wins. She agreed her senior year was one to remember.

“Getting to cheer at the football and basketball games was very special this year,” said Blair. “Our teams were winning, and the crowds were large and vocal. We had a lot of school spirit, and we all worked hard. It’s always something that I’ll remember.”

Blair was an all-conference performer on the track team in the hurdles and played as the No. 3 seed on the tennis team that made it to the finals in the regional. She explained why she chose cheerleading instead.

“I’ve always enjoyed running track and playing tennis,” she said. “Both are fun, but cheerleading has always been my passion. I used to go down to Tusculum when my sister cheered there and attend games. I loved that and getting to see her in that type of atmosphere. She has always been a role model that I look up to and respect. She is still in school there, so that’s certainly is going to be a plus.”

Blair said she considered going to Northeast State on a Tennessee Promise scholarship and visited ETSU but none of those felt right. She noted that Tusculum had all the things she was looking for and more.

“It’s a good academic school that has a good nursing program. I plan on graduating and getting my masters there in nursing. I want to be a nurse practitioner when I get out.”

Blair said that her coaches Casey Southerland and Michelle Walters had been significant support.

“I had great coaches because they pushed me to be the best. I owe a lot to them because they helped me to improve my skills.”

Blair is the daughter of Roger and Stacey Blair. She marveled when talking about her mother.
“Mom has been my biggest supporter ever,” Caleigh said. “She has always been at my games when I’m cheering or if I’m playing she is there to watch. She has supported me whatever I’ve tried to do.”

Caleigh said she has not worked out her living arrangements as of yet, but she plans on seeing a lot of her sisters. She’s hoping that more family members can drop by.

“I chose Tusculum because it’s close enough to where my parents can attend some of the games, but it’s far enough away where I can be on my own,” she added. “I can always be back in Johnson County should I need anything.”

Caleigh will be cheering in the fall for the Pioneers football team.

JCMS tabs Swift to coach girls’ basketball

                               Swift

By Tim Chambers
Sports Editor
TomahawkSportsEditor@gmail.com

Johnson County was in need of a middle school basketball coach for its girls’ program, and they didn’t have to look very far to find one. Sarah Swift has accepted the job at her Alma Mater and will be teaching PE at Johnson County Middle School for the upcoming school year. Swift is a graduate of Johnson County High School and Emory & Henry University. She recently completed her master’s degree and is excited about the opportunity that she’s been given.

“I just found out a few weeks ago that I got the job and I’m super excited about the coaching part,” said Swift. “I’m hoping they can find me an assistant coach quick because we have 19 girls currently in our program.”

Swift graduated from Johnson County High School in 2013 where she was an All-Conference performer in volleyball and basketball. She went on to play volleyball at E&H but likes the new role she’s been placed in.

“I feel a whole lot more comfortable around volleyball because I always loved playing it, but I always had a passion for basketball too. I think the high school program is really going to be something in a couple of years and I’m happy for the girls and their coaches. I’m hoping we can be a part of that by producing a good feeder program for coach Tolley and his staff. We want our kids to be ready to step in when they get there.”

The team was set to begin workouts on Tuesday with some select drills that Swift has drawn up for them. She hopes to get with Tolley and his staff very quickly.

“I want to attend some of Coach Tolley’s practices and get to know him and Coach Smith. I already know Coach Eller, so that’s a plus. I want to watch his kids and get to know their style of play and get a good feel for what he does and implement it into our practices. I believe it will be a much easier transition for our kids when they move on to high school if we’re doing some of the same stuff.”

Swift played three seasons under Todd Whittemore who coached at the high school for five seasons before his departure. She played on teams that we’re very competitive during his tenure.

“He taught us a lot about basketball, but he also taught us some valuable life lessons. He always stayed in touch with me and encouraged me to go on and graduate. I feel like he played a huge role in me wanting to coach. I would like to have an impact on my players like that.”

Swift liked what she saw after meeting with the team.

“I told them that this is going to be a learning experience for everyone. I’m happy to be working with this age group because it can be tough at times and it can be rewarding too. The girls that I met with seem to have great attitudes and want to play. It’s going to be a good fit.”

Swift said her expectations will be simple to start out with.

“I want them to play hard and be a team player. I want players who will do what’s best for our team to make it better. It all starts with a good attitude and good effort at practices and during games. Talent and skills are great, but they won’t do you any good if the kids are not willing to work hard to get better.”

Chris Dunbar, who coached the girl’s seventh-grade team last year, will move over to the boys’ side to take on that same role.

Tomahawk Talk: “One to remember”

 

Taylor Cox

JC’s Taylor Cox prepares to hit a shot at the net for the Lady Longhorns. They fell in the state tournament by a close score of 2-6, 6-7 and 6-2. Photo contributed by Jeff Birchfield, Johnson City Press.

By Tim Chambers
Sports Editor
TomahawkSportsEditor@gmail.com

The perfect terminology to define the 2017-18 year at Johnson County High School would be “one to remember.” It would be hard to look back and find a more complete season that Longhorn teams provided their fans with. It all started on the football field back in August when Johnson County broke a three-year losing streak to Sullivan East and destroyed the Patriots 34-0. That win set the tone for one outstanding year because so many players contributed to the victory. Nathan Arnold threw a pair of long touchdown passes to Shane Greer that covered 60 and 25 yards. Greer caught four passes for 136 yards, and Arnold was 9-13 for 207.
Caden Arnold used his speed to score a touchdown in the game. Gage Hampton added a couple of touchdown runs to spearhead the offense, but their defense was just as impressive.

Haden Osborne had 10 tackles and a pair of sacks. Bud Icenhour contributed a pair of interceptions. Tyler Norris provided eight tackles and a sack while Zack Eller and Josh Herman combined to break up a total of six passes. Jordan Edes-King shined on both sides of the ball with a 38-yard reception in addition to his six tackles, a fumble recovery, and a sack.

It got even better when the Longhorns defeated Hampton 20-8, their first victory over the Bulldogs since 2013. Osborne, Norris, RJ Snyder, and Edes-King combined to register 46 tackles with 13, 12, 11 and 10 respectively. Icenhour finished with 146 all-purpose yards. Will Kerley and Cameron Clawson provided some stellar defensive plays while Nate Shepherd and Tristan Dishman anchored the offensive line that played one of its better games of the year.

The football gods were looking out for the Horns the following week after they slipped past Chuckey-Doak 14-13. It was the second consecutive road victory. A blowout win over Unaka and a hard-fought 28-21 comeback victory at West Greene caught the eye of the state sportswriters. They were ranked No. 3 in the Class 3-A poll and stayed there the entire season.

Fans will always remember the 98-yard fumble recovery-touchdown run by Norris at Happy Valley that allowed them to walk away with a 14-7 victory over the No. 8 ranked Warriors in 2-A. The Longhorns stayed unbeaten with wins over Claiborne County, North Greene, and Cloudland. They got revenge against Unicoi County 28-14 on Senior Night to cap off their perfect 10-0 regular season.

Their 21-20 win over Northview Academy will never be forgotten and neither will Osborne’s block of the extra point with 1:20 remaining in the game that preserved the victory. Their 11-0 record came to a halt the following week in the second round of the playoffs to Austin East 30-21.

Some key players from the football team would play a vital role on the basketball team that finished with 22 victories. Bud Icenhour, Nathan Arnold, Edes-King, and Eller would find themselves in starting roles on the hardwood along with All-State candidate for 2018-19 Blake Atwood. Included in the win total were a couple of big ones over Elizabethton. A young girl’s team that was made up mainly of sophomores and freshmen earned a road win over Elizabethton and defeated Hampton under the tillage of veteran head coach Leon Tolley but his first on the Longhorns’ bench.

The boys topped the Bulldogs twice for the first time in several years and hosted a home game in the regional, which they lost in the final seconds. Not to be outdone was the tennis team who had a banner year under first-year head coach Zack Pittman. Taylor and Olivia Cox won the regional doubles title and played in the state tournament for the first time ever. Noah Cox and Will Henson reached the finals of the regional before losing a close match. The girl’s team made the regionals and came within one set of going to the state tournament.

Several players will continue their careers at the college level. Nathan Arnold, Jordan Edes-King, and Tristan Dishman have signed to play football, Bud Icenhour will continue in basketball while Cayleigh Blair is set to cheer at Tusculum University. Will Kerley’s calling into the ministry is definitely one of the year’s greatest memories.

Condolences to Nate Shepherd’s family
It breaks my heart to end this column with a somber moment. I was first elated to find out that football standout Nate Shepherd had received a scholarship to ETSU that will provide him four thousand dollars per year over the next four years as reported by his mother, Marsha Shepherd on her Facebook page. Ms. Shepherd was a true Longhorns’ fan and had complimented me before after an article I had one on Nate. She was killed in an automobile accident on Monday near Little Stoney around the lake just days after Nate’s graduation. I want to extend my condolences and prayers to all of Nate’s family in this time of sorrow. Always cling to those special times you all enjoyed over the years. I’m asking that the Johnson County community embrace Nate and his family, not just now but in the days ahead.

Longhorns hold HS baseball banquet

 

Baseball Banquet

The Johnson County High School baseball team was treated with a nice meal before the
presentation of trophies at the baseball banquet. Photo by Tim Chambers.

By Tim Chambers
Sports Editor
TomahawkSportsEditor@gmail.com

 

Coach Pete Pavusek held his annual baseball banquet on Thursday night inside the school’s cafeteria with lots of food, drink, cake and ice cream being served.

A good turnout of players was on hand in addition to parents as numerous awards were handed out.

Two seniors who were present and honored were Josh Tierney and Jonathan Arnold. Shane Greer was recognized for making the All-Conference team. Bud Icenhour, Jayden Joiner, and Petie Pavusek also received recognition for making the honorable mention team. Timothy Grindstaff was recognized for his work of keeping the book.

The baseball team voted on the best teammate awards and those selected were Josh Tierney, Ben Howard, and Petie Pavusek. Joiner was honored as the pitcher of the year and the gold glove, and 110 percent award went to Jonathan Arnold.  Tameula Trivett was given  an award for her dedication  to the baseball team. The team was shown a video before the banquet that was complete with pictures and music honoring the 2018 baseball season.

Coach Pavusek thanked our Tomahawk sports department and recognized this scribe with a plaque.

White Sox starve off Dodgers 10-8

By Tim Chambers
Sports Editor
TomahawkSportsEditor@gmail.com

One big inning led to a huge victory for the White Sox on Thursday night at Cunningham Park. The Sox scored five times in the second inning then held off a late Dodgers rally for a 10-8 victory in major league play. The Dodgers got on the board first by scoring twice in their first at-bat. Nate King blasted a triple scoring Landon Greene who had walked. He later crossed the plate on a wild pitch for a 2-0 advantage. The Sox got one run back in the bottom half after Hunter Paisley walked then scored on a wild pitch.

The Sox exploded for five runs in the second inning to surge out in front 6-2. Grayson Espinoza, Silas Avent, Isaac Lewis and Paisley all walked and scored. Juan Mejia crushed a three-run triple to highlight the inning along with a run-scoring double from Jackson Clifton. The Dodgers craved into the deficit in the third on a two-run double by Ezra Howard to pull them closer at 6-4. Eli Horne, Grayson Holt, and Landon Greene would all score to get them closer at 6-5.

Walks continued to plague the Dodgers as the White Sox collected 16 free passes that led to the majority of their runs. Darren Chappel, Christopher Canter, and Espinoza would cross the plate in the fifth inning that gave the Sox a commanding 10-5 advantage. That’s when the Dodgers almost mounted a remarkable comeback.
Nate King got things started with a single then scored on a towering triple off the bat of Howard. Ethan Smith got in on the act by scoring Howard with a line drive double, but the Sox would retire the next three batters which allowed them to escape with the victory.Clifton and Mejia had the only hits in the game for the Sox.

Howard led the Dodgers going 2-2 with a double, triple and two RBI’s. King went 2-3 with a triple and two RBI’s. Smith had the only other hit. Nate Dorman picked up the win for the White Sox with relief help from Isaac Lewis who recorded the save. The Dodgers managed to throw three pitchers in the game.

Dodgers 203 003 – 8 5
White Sox 150 22x – 10 2
WP—Dorman
Save—Lewis

Cox twins finish season with Class A State quarterfinal tourney

By Tim Chambers
Sports Editor
TomahawkSportsEditor@gmail.com

MURFREESBORO—It wasn’t the outcome they were hoping for, but two sisters put Johnson County on the map with their all-out play in the Class A tennis state tournament on Thursday. The Longhorns’ duo of Taylor and Olivia Cox fell Summertown’s Alexis Perry and Maggie Long 2-6, 7-6 (3) and 6-2 at the Adams Complex in Murfreesboro. It was quite a showing by the twins who dominated play in the early going.

“We had confidence that we would come out and win the next game too, said Taylor after they had taken the first set. “I wasn’t nervous at all. I didn’t look at this match any different than I did another other. My goal was to win and try to reach the championship.”

The twins found themselves in a battle during the second match. They trailed early but fought back to tie the score at 5-5 then 6-6 after Summertown had gone up by one. They ended up losing by a slim 6-7 (3) score.

“I wish we had been a little more aggressive at the net,” said Olivia about their play. “They were much better than the teams we had played during the season. I felt like we played one of our better matches against them. It was a little more nerve-racking than our normal matches, but we just went out and played our game. We had a chance to win it.”

The contest went to the third and decisive set where the Cox girls were upended 6-2. Their father and assistant coach Craig Cox thought his girls elevated their play against a very good team from Summertown.

“Olivia and Taylor really raised their game, but the other team made some adjustments in the second set and shook off some nervousness,” said Coach Cox. “Our girls actually played better down here than they did in the District and Regional. They came out against a good team and dominated play in the first match. We just didn’t win the key points in the tiebreaker than we needed to. That is sometimes that we’ll work on over the summer.”

Taylor touched on what it meant to make the elite eight.“It was an honor to come down here and represent Johnson County High School,” said Taylor. “We want to thank everyone from our community and all the businesses that recognized us.”

Both girls took the time to thank their head coach Zack Pittman, their dad, and Coach Tim Tugman. “We had a very good staff this year, added Olivia. “We worked hard, and it showed on the court. Our coaches had a lot to do with that.”

Taylor added. “Our goal is to win the state next year. We got a taste this year, and we now know what to expect. Our family from West Tennessee drove up to watch us and so did some others. We’ll work hard and do whatever it takes to get back down here again. We won’t be satisfied until we win it.”

Tomahawk Talk: Unwarranted pressure killing youth sports

By Tim Chambers

Tomahawk Sports Editor
TomahawkSportsEditor@gmail.com

Attempts to persuade or the use of intimidation can often be associated with the word ‘pressure.’
Many of today’s athletes are experiencing it at a young age. It starts when they are in youth sports and continues through middle and high school athletics.
Unfortunately, a great deal of today’s pressure comes from parents. Many of the ones doing it don’t care or don’t want to admit it.
And it’s not just aimed at their child. A target is placed on the coach’s back or anyone else who they feel like has wronged them.
Parents flood social media with their videos, statistics or anything else that they think will bring attention to their child for the wrong reasons.
Team accomplishments, friendships built and other things that should matter most are often lost in the shuffle as the pressures get worse.
Some parents take to telling the coach who they should play and who they shouldn’t, and we sportswriters are not exempt either.
We are often told who we should write about and whose pictures we should put in the paper. These statements are not fabricated either.
Let’s look at the whole picture.
Every child is an exceptional athlete in their parent’s eyes, but not all of them can be the team’s best player. Some can’t be a starter nor fill the stat charts and it might be an accomplishment for a few to just make the team but each one is important.
They can play a vital role in their team’s success but don’t try and relay this to the parents in the stands, and here’s why.
Some already know how to make out the lineup card and who should be playing where along with knowing which kids did what and they stress to their child that individual stats are much more important than team accomplishments.
They try to sway the coach on their decision making, and some will go to any extreme to make sure that their child is compensated even if it means seeing that he or she is dismissed.
A parent’s evaluation of their child’s ability might differ from what the coach sees in games or practices. It does not affect how he or she feels about your child.
They should play the best players who excel in games and at practices but that don’t mean your child is not essential to the team.
When does one step back and be realistic about their child’s true athletic abilities and potential to become better? Or do we move forward and step on anyone who might have a different opinion than their own.
It’s time parents step back and let the coaches do their jobs. They’re not perfect, and sometimes they make mistakes just like you.
Stress to your child the benefits of being in a team setting, the importance of attending practice, working hard to get better and putting the team before self.
Administrators are urged to rid off unwarranted complaints. Don’t let parents dictate who coaches their child and who don’t.
Sometimes a change is warranted, and other times it can be corrected.
Unfortunately, many of today’s young athletes are caught up in trying to please their parents and make them proud. They feel intimidated.
It’s called “pressure.”
Tim Chambers is the sports editor at the Tomahawk. He can be reached by email at tomahawksportseditor@gmail.com.

Three Longhorns tabbed on All-Conference Squad

Shane Greer

Hannah Brooks

Courtney Brooks

By Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor

TomahawkSportsEditor@gmail.comThree Longhorns were selected on the All-Conference teams while five others earned honorable mention honors.
Shane Greer was the only Longhorn to make the baseball’s squad. Bud Icenhour, Jayden Joiner, and Petie Pavusek were tabbed as an honorable mention.
Hannah Brooks and Courtney Brooks were selected to the softball squad. Natalie Winters and Emmy Miller gathered honorable mention honors.

 

Angels remain unbeaten in Little League

Pictured is the Johnson County Bank Angels who currently lead the league with a 5-0 mark. Team members include Gavin Conder, Sam Cretsinger, Chris Reece, Tyler Bouchelle, Ethan Reece, Conner Simcox, Eli Dickens, Tanner Bulliner, George Grill, Hayden Parker and Graham Reece. Coaches are Dirk Simcox, George Grill, and Daniel Dickens. Photo by Tim Chambers

By Tim Chambers

A classic movie once told us that “Angels” were in the outfield but you can find them somewhere else at the Johnson County Little League Field. The Johnson County Bank Angels are currently in first place in the Majors division and are undefeated at 5-0.
They won their first four games by way of the run rule then knocked off the previously undefeated Diamondbacks by five last week.
Manager Dirk Simcox likes the make-up of his squad that has a variety of several experienced players. He feels like pitching and hitting has been the key so far to their success.
“We’ve had several of these kids together for past three years, so there is good chemistry among them,” said Simcox. “They love to be out on the field, and they all love to play. We have five or six kids that can pitch, and we’ve got a few younger players who are improving as well. We’ve been able to score a lot of runs, and our returning players have hit the ball well.”
The pitching staff of Graham Reece, Conner Simcox, Chris Reece, Ethan Reece and Eli Dickens have all stepped up and performed well so far. Graham was the starting centerfielder for the middle school team while Simcox and Chris Reece were two of the All-Stars top pitchers last year.
The league adopted a new pitching rule that states a team must start and end the game with a nine or 10-year old pitcher in games played on Thursday. Simcox is not a fan of the rule.
“I can’t see making it a rule because you should be working with the younger kids so they can learn,” said Simcox. “We ask our players where they want to play at before the season starts and give them all a try. Some can do and some can’t. You don’t ever want to put a kid on the mound in harm’s way. Some of the older kids hit the ball hard.”
Team success can always be found when good pitching is complimented with good hitting. The Angels have been the beneficiary of both.
Graham Reece, Simcox, Ethan Reece, Eli Dickens and George Grill have been knocking the cover off the ball. He also likes what he has seen in newcomer Tyler Bouchelle.
“I drafted Tyler, and he’s played outstanding,” said Simcox. “His sister plays for my wife’s softball team, and she is an outstanding athlete too.”
The head skipper was quick to compliment all the players on his team.
“Some teams usually have three or four kids that are strong, and the rest are average, but we’ve got quality players across the board. Some need to learn a few things, but all of them are solid kids.”
The younger players of Sam Cretsinger, Hayden Parker, Gavin Conder plus 12-year old newcomer Tanner Bullinar have helped elevate the Angles as the league’s top squad.
Parker started the game on the mound in the big win over the Diamondbacks, and Cretsinger closed it out.
“I thought both of them did a good job on the mound,” said Simcox. We pitched one our good pitchers in between them, but I pleased with their effort.”
George Grill and Daniel Dickens assist Simcox.
“Both of them have done a great job assisting and so has Brad Reece,” added Simcox. “Brad is not an official coach this year, but he definitely is a big part of it.”
Simcox likes the fact that the league has six teams.
“I’ve been in this since 2006 when I started with my oldest son’s T-Ball team, and this is the most teams that I can remember us having. The league is well balanced. The Diamondback is young, but they have an excellent team, and the Dodgers have some good players. The other teams are all bunched in there together. It definitely is a good league this year.”

Tomahawk’s “Dandy Dozen” All Johnson-Carter Softball team

Corie Schuettler, Unaka Pitcher of the year

By Tim Chambers

Tomahawk Sports Editor
TomahawkSportsEditor@gmail.com

One can put the 2018 high school softball season down in the books with only one team in the Johnson and Carter County area making the state tournament. Unaka earned its way to Murfreesboro after knocking off Tellico Plains 2-1 on Saturday to reach the elite eight. The Rangers have a current record of 29-11.
Elizabethton finished their season at 25-15 losing to 10-time state champion Corryton-Gibbs 8-3 after leading for most of the game. Top honors go to the Cyclones and Rangers.
The “elite” squad was comprised with input from some well-respected coaches and sportswriters representing the two counties.
Trying to select our player of the year became a toss-up between Elizabethton’s duo of Maci West and Lauren Brickey. We were unable to break the deadlock so both will share player of the year honors.
West hit a torrid .508 with nine homers and 47 RBI’s. She also made only one error in the field all season.
Brickey’s numbers were just as phenomenal. She hit .444 with ten home runs and 50 RBI’s. She also recorded a record of 18-4 as a pitcher.
Unaka’s Corie Schuettler was our unanimous choice as the pitcher of the year. She racked up 29 wins on the mound with an ERA of 1.45 with 293 strikeouts.
All the above are seniors.
The Cyclones also landed shortstop Macie Herman and Kira Dillard on the squad.
Herman hit .365, scored 43 runs and was tabbed as the area’s best shortstop. Dillard ended the season hitting .370 and was one of the top defensive players in Northeast, Tennessee possessing great speed.
Unaka’s trio of Madison Pierce, Kaitlyn Weaver, and Madison Ensor made their way on the squad.
Pierce is hitting .425 in the leadoff spot and is a vacuum at her third base position.
Weaver is batting .360 and leads the team in home runs and RBI’s. Her play was outstanding in the regional championship game and sub-state victory.
Ensor was batting .400 when she went down with a torn meniscus in the District tournament.

Cloudland’s Kenzie Birchfield finds her way on the team after elevating the Highlanders into a much-improved program. She was the team’s top pitcher and hit .401 on the season.
Happy Valley’s Kat Roberts was named on every ballot. Roberts had a remarkable on-base percentage and was of the best defensive centerfielders in the area.
Johnson County’s sophomore duo, Hannah Brooks and Natalie Winters rounded out the elite squad while playing in every game during the
season.
Brooks hit a torrid .513 and was intentional walked more than any player in Northeast, Tennessee. She also led the team in slugging percentage.
Winters finished the year hitting .375 and had an on-base percentage of .502 as a leadoff hitting.
Johnson County’s freshman catcher Emmy Miller was selected as the top newcomer edging Happy Valley’s freshmen duo of Abby Holt and Olivia Absher.
Miller batted .386 and turned some head with her outstanding defensive play behind the plate as the starting catcher.
Unaka’s Kenneth Chambers was tabbed as Coach of the year after advancing his Lady Rangers to the state tournament for the second consecutive season.

2018 Tomahawk’s
All Johnson / Carter
Softball Team

Co-Players of the year:
Maci West, Lauren Brickey,
Elizabethton

Pitcher of the year:
Corie Schuettler, Unaka

Most Promising Underclassman: Emmy Miller, Johnson County

Coach of the year:
Kenneth Chambers, Unaka

Elizabethton:
Macie Herman, Kira Dillard

Unaka:
Madison Pierce, Kaitlyn Weaver, Madison Ensor

Johnson Co:
Hannah Brooks,
Natalie Winters

Happy Valley:
Kat Roberts

Cloudland:
Kenzie Birchfield

Honorable Mention:
Sarah Tipton, Erika Potter, Unaka; Haley Fair, Maggie Johnson, Elizabethton; Abby Holt, Olivia Absher, Happy Valley; Rein Strickland, Jasmine Birchfield, Cloudland, Sara Orr, Bailey Andrews, Hampton; Courtney Brooks, Lindsey Wills, Johnson County.

Penley finds success as an Eagle

Isaiah Penley in action during a college golf match at Alice Lloyd College. Submitted photo

 

By Tim Chambers

Tomahawk Sports Editor
TomahawkSportsEditor@gmail.com

Playing at the college level as a freshman requires lots of talent, hard work and sometimes wing it. Isaiah Penley is adjusting rather nicely to his new role.
The former Longhorns’ standout is now a key player at Alice Lloyd College in Kentucky. He has the talent, and his work ethic is second to none.
All college athletes have to wing in the early going.
Penley found the college game much different than the high school version. Each match consisted of 36 holes over a two-day period unlike the nine holes played during a high school match. He touched on the difference and how he adjusted to it.
“It was a big shock going from high school to college competition,” said Penley. “We played nine holes and from shorter tees in high school to 36 holes and much longer tees in college. I did not do as well as I would have liked, but I am really glad that God blessed me with the opportunity to play here. I enjoyed every minute of it and I feel more ready for next year because of my freshman experience.”
Penley was not too shabby for a first-year player, and neither were the Eagles. He helped them to a seventh-place finish in a 12 team league which was quite an accomplishment for such a young squad that’s only been around for four seasons.
“You are always playing against the best of the best, so you have to up your competition level,” added Penley. “I had to develop a practice regiment and stick to it and be consistent. I feel as if I have grown over the past year in my golf game. I am excited and ready for next year to get here.”
Penley said the team plays five or six matches in the fall and the same number in the spring. The matches usually take place on Monday and Tuesday with each day being an 18-hole event.
“It can be stressful and tiring,” added Penley. “I never really was a long hitter, but I hit it well enough in high school to attack the course. In college, you are further back, so I have to play a little more conservative, but it makes it more interesting and challenging. I like dividing the matches up because we get to play in the fall and spring. We play matches in Kentucky, South Carolina, Indiana, and Georgia, so there are lots of traveling. You get to see the different terrains, so it is definitely different from playing in the Tri-Cities.”
Penley said his expectations might have been too high at first, but he feels good about the way he handled himself on the course.
“I have improved since coming here, and my game is now more suitable for the college level. I have been able to get in a lot of college reps, so that has been a huge plus. We want to become a top 25 NAIA program, and we have been able to recruit some very good players. The school is committed to having a good golf program, and I could not play for a better coach.”
Penley works for the golf coach 10 hours per week, but that will increase to 20 next fall with his new role of tutoring. He excelled in his academics, making the dean’s list for both semesters.
“I love it here,” said Penley. “It has a home feel, and I really enjoy the small campus. It is like having your own little piece of back home in Kentucky. God put me at a great school doing something I love. I couldn’t ask for anything more. I made a great decision coming here.”

Longhorns Softball taking a new direction

By Tim Chambers

Tomahawk Sports Editor

Blevins stepping down at softball coach
TomahawkSportsEditor@gmail.comThe administration at Johnson County High School has decided to move in another direction with its high school softball program. Head coach Angela Blevins resigned her coaching position on Friday after learning that she would not be coaching the team next season.
Blevins had some impressive credentials as a college player at the University of Pennsylvania where she is listed in the school’s Hall of Fame.
She was an All-Conference player for three seasons and was a Verizon Academic All-American. She set many records as a player while at
IUP.
Blevins scored 133 runs, recorded 219 hits in 623 plate appearances all school records. She was a Regional All American for three seasons and served as a head softball coach in Pennsylvania for one year.
This year she proved her worth by winning two games in the District 1-AA tournament with probably the youngest team in Northeast, Tennessee.
The Longhorns started three freshmen, five sophomores, and a junior in their big win over Sullivan South before falling 4-3 to a much improved Happy Valley squad.
They recently won the conference junior varsity tournament by defeating Elizabethton, Happy Valley, and Sullivan East.
Blevins’ team kept showing signs of improvement, but lack of players on the roster was one area of concern.
The Longhorns dressed only 13 players which included one senior and two juniors.
Blevins will remain at the high school as a teacher. She has been in Johnson County for 14 years.

Head Coach Angela Blevins

Reece tabbed as new high school softball coach

It took only a weekend for Johnson County High School to find their new head softball coach after Angela Blevins resigned that position on Friday.
Middle school head coach Greg Reece will take over the program after working his way up through the ranks in the profession.
Reece has coached softball for 16 years as a Little League coach, travel ball and All-Start in addition to his decade of service at Johnson County Middle School.
His junior high team recently won the conference’s end of the season tournament over Unaka 13-2. Reece gave thanks to that squad.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to work with the middle school players, parents and administration, said Reece. We have an ideal situation with some many talented girls coming in from Little League and travel ball. Those two systems have been our feeders, and I am deeply appreciative and still dedicated to making sure that they have what they need to succeed and flourish.”
Reece stated that his selection is a new start for everyone including returning players and players that may have left the program. He said they and all up and coming middle school players are welcome to try out.
“My job as a coach is to see that players excel on the field and in the classroom. I want our kids to play the game with a high level of discipline but with the confidence.”
Reece used a quote from former NBA star Charles Barkley about his expectations.
“If you are afraid of failure, then you do not deserve success.” The only way we can step up to that next level is by knowing our limits, and then stretching them to fit our
goals.”
Reece said that his 16 years of coaching had taught him that to win games you have to score runs and put pressure on your opponents with explosive innings.
“You can overcome error or days when your pitchers are struggling, but you cannot overcome not scoring runs,” added Reece. “When we have the opportunity for a big inning, we will jump on it. We definitely will not be one dimensional. Everyone will learn to be proficient at bunting and play the short game. Teams that play us will have to defend the entire
field.”
Reece hopes to improve on the team’s hitting with a three-dimensional approach. He said that bat speed is critical. He also will use the
DP and flex rule to play the team’s best nine offensive
players.
Reece will be conducting tryouts sometime soon. He planned on meeting with
players from the middle and high school programs on Monday.
Reece leaves the junior high program after winning the past three conference tournament championships.

JCMS softball coaches Greg Reece, center.

Diamondbacks upend White Sox 12-9

D-Back’s Kaden Blevins hits an inside-the-park home run versus the White Sox. Blevins went 3-4 in their 12-9 win with 3 RBI’s. Photos by Tim Chambers

By Tim Chambers

Tomahawk Sports Editor
TomahawkSportsEditor@gmail.com

The second place Diamondbacks lost their first game of the season on Friday night to the Angels but bounced back nicely on Saturday. Their 12-9 win over the determined White Sox was one doozy of a game played on Gary Woodard Field.
The Diamondbacks scored four times in the first inning to take the early lead. Carson Jennings led off with a walk followed by Karter Rhudy’s double. A two-run triple by Kaden Blevins and Tuff Robinson’s double capped off the productive inning by the D-Backs.
“We made some mistakes against the Angels that we shouldn’t have made and it cost us,” said Blevins. “Today we didn’t give up many mistake runs, and we hit it good. I wasn’t about to let us lose two games in a row.”
The Diamondback struck again for two runs in the following inning that extended their lead at 6-0. Sawyer Marshall and Blevins lined a pair of two-out singles followed by a towering triple off the bat of Tuff Robinson.
The White Sox begin to whittle away at the deficit in the bottom half.
Nate Dorman and Darrin Chappell reached base and scored on Christopher Canter’s bad-hop double. Jackson Clifton plated one of those with a groundout.
The White Sox used a single by Isaac Lewis in the third inning to score another run, but the D-Backs put their hitting britches back on in the fourth.
Blevins continued his red-hot hitting by belting an inside-the-park home run scoring Rhudy who had walked. Robinson also singled and scored extending their advantage at 9-3.
The scrappy White Sox didn’t cave in but found a way to get back in the game.
Juan Mejia and Dorman both walked and scored, and Canter gave them another score with his inside-the-park home run that made it 9-6.
Rhudy’s run-soaring single plated Wyatt Robinson who had walked in the fifth inning and Robinson’s second three-bagger of the game produced their final run in the sixth.
The Sox mounted their last rally in the fifth with one crushing blow in the inning.
Dylan Blevins singled and scored that made it 11-6. Isaac Lewis and Hunter Paisley kept the rally going with a base hit apiece then Dorman launched a towering double that plated the pair.
“We struggled some at first with our batting today, but our pitching and fielding were good,” said Dorman. “We finally starting hitting near the end and could have won if we had done that at first. They have mercy-ruled almost every team this year, so we’re happy with playing them close.”
The D-Back brought Tuff Robinson to the mound in the sixth who retired the side to preserve the win.
Robinson ended the day by going 4-for-4 with two triples, four RBI’s in addition to picking up the save. He said that any win is a good win.
“I was a little nervous when I came in to pitch, but I just wanted to win,” said Robinson. “We got a lot of tags out today, and we played better than we did last night. We don’t want to lose another one.”
Blevins was 3-for-4 with three RBI’s and three runs scored. Jennings, Marshall, and Rhudy provided a base hit each.
Derek Baird and Rhudy pitched well for the D-Backs before giving way to Robinson in the sixth.
Canter went 2-3 with three RBI’s and two runs scored to lead the White-Sox. Dorman was 1-1 with three runs scored and two RBI’s.
“I was happy that we kept the game close,” said Canter. We hit the ball great at the end and almost were able to pull out a win.”

Bulldogs end Junior Longhorns season 13-10

JCMS finished the season at 9-9. They lost to Hampton 13-10 in tournament play on Tuesday.

 

By Tim Chambers

Tomahawk Sports Editor
TomahawkSportsEditor@gmail.com

JOHNSON CITY—The middle school Longhorns saw their season come to a close on Tuesday against Hampton. The Bulldogs opened up a 7-0 lead in the first two innings that propelled them to a 13-10 victory.
The Bulldogs used a two-run triple by Kaleb Royston and run-scoring singles from Avery Hill and Morgan Lyons to go on top in the early going.
The Longhorns fought back to get within one by scoring six times in their second at-bat.
Dalton Brown singled then scored on a base hit by Trey Snyder. Peyton Pavusek plated another run with a sacrifice fly. Josh Allen and Graham Reece would each come through with RBI base hits as did Seth Condor and Zack Parsons before Hampton could escape the inning.
The Bulldogs kept on applying the pressure with a pair of runs in the fifth and sixth frames. They also tallied solo runs in the fourth and seventh innings to account for their baker’s dozen total.
Johnson County rallied for four runs in their final at-bat but couldn’t overcome the seven-run deficit.
Josh Austin had three hits to lead the Longhorns. Snyder, Icenhour, and Parsons provided two hits apiece. Pavusek recorded a pair of RBI’s as did Condor and Parsons.
Lyons, Hill, McKinley Kuhn, Kyler Lewis, and Connor Burleson collected two hits each for the Bulldogs. Brady Hicks picked up the win on the mound for Hampton.
The Longhorns struggled on defense by making six of them in the game.
Johnson County’s head coach Julian Crews summed up the season.
It was a year of ups and downs,” said Crews. “We went through a lot of peaks and valleys. It was like one long roller coaster ride.
The Longhorns finish the year at 9-9.

Hampton 13,
Johnson Co. 10

JCMS 060 000 4 – 10 13 6
Hampton 340 122 1– 13 12 1
WP—Brady Hicks.

Warriors outlast Lady Longhorns 4-3

JC’s Natalie Winters (21) hammers a double versus HV. The sophomore had a great tournament before being eliminated 4-3 by the Warriors. Photo by Tim Chambers

By Tim Chambers

Tomahawk Sports Editor
TomahawkSportsEditor@gmail.com

ELIZABETHTON—Trying to duplicate District 1-AA’s first game between Elizabethton and Unicoi County seemed impossible, but Johnson County and Happy Valley did so in dramatic fashion. The Warriors rallied from a 3-2 deficit with two outs in the seventh inning to tie the game then win it 4-3 in the eighth frame.
The start time was delayed due to Unicoi’s 6-5 win over the Lady Cyclones in the first contest. The last game had the same type of excitement and more.
Happy Valley’s Katie Havner grounded a base hit between second and first to tie the game at 3-3-. Her clutch base hit scored freshman Olivia Absher who had reached on a one-out single.
“I was so glad when they called time after I had one strike,” said Havner. “It gave me a chance to get loose and let my worries go. I had hit really well in batting practice, but I couldn’t get anything to fall up to that point, but this definitely is the biggest hit in my
career.”
That base hit wasn’t the straw that broke the camel’s back. That one came in the following frame.
Callie Davis ripped a walk-off single with the bases loaded scoring Makala Hughes who had doubled to start the inning.
“I didn’t want this to be my last game,” said Davis, a senior. “I went up there with a lot of confidence ready to swing. It was very emotional in the dugout in the seventh inning when we tied it up, and we weren’t about to let it slip away after that.”
The Warriors jumped on top 1-0 in the first on an RBI base hit by Kelly scoring Kaitlyn Roberts who had reached on a two-base error.
Davis factored in the game’s second run by stretching her base hit into a double with an all-out hustle play. She later scored on Absher’s base hit to give Happy Valley a 2-0 advantage.
Freshman pitcher Abby Holt was cruising along by not allowing a run until the fifth inning. That’s when the Longhorns rallied to tie the game.
Lindsey Wills delivered a two-run single scoring Hannah Brooks and Emmy Miller who had walked. They would add their final run in the following frame to go up 3-2.
Maddi Edington moved to third on a double play by Natalie Winters. Miller then hit a ball to left field that fell, but the runner was called out at third on a force play on what appeared to be a break from the Warriors.
Holt and her teammates took advantage of the call and got out of the jam with no further damage.
Johnson County’s inability to deliver clutch base hits, in the end, would prove to be their downfall. The Longhorns left two runners on in the seventh and eighth innings while Happy Valley answered with a single score in each of those frames.
“We had our chances and just didn’t deliver,” said Longhorns super sophomore Hannah Brooks who was intentionally walked five times. “We played as hard as we could and should have won. This one really hurts.”
Willis had a game-high three hits to lead the Longhorns. Hannah Brooks was intentionally walked five times. Winters doubled and reached base three times. Emmy Miller
recorded two hits. Cassidy Lakatos had the other one.
Brooks went the distance on the mound for the Horns. Holt earned the win by
striking out 10 in her complete-game performance for the Warriors.
Absher and Kelly had two hits apiece to pace the Warriors. The Warriors outhit Johnson County 10-7.
“We had runners on in the last two innings but couldn’t score,” said Johnson County’s head coach Angela Blevins. “We made a few mistakes in the game, but we had a very
young team on the field. Our kids played well for having three freshman and five sophomores in the starting lineup. I can see a lot of improvement in them over the last several weeks.”

District 1-AA Tournament
Happy Valley 4,
Johnson County 3

JCHS 000 021 00 – 3 7 2
Happy V. 101 000 11 – 4 10 1
H. Brooks and Miller. Holt and Kelly.
WP—Holt, LP—Brooks

Cox twins capture state tournament berth

Taylor and Olivia Cox won the Region 1-AA tennis tournament over Chuckey-Doak’s Kassidy Holloway and Ondreea Shelton 6-4, 6-4 advancing to state

 

By Tim Chambers

Tomahawk Sports Editor
TomahawkSportsEditor@gmail.com

GREENEVILLE— The lifelong dream of reaching the state tournament in tennis is finally over for Johnson County’s dynamic sophomore duo of Taylor and Olivia Cox. The sisters were double trouble at Tusculum University on Monday winning the Region 1-AA tennis tournament over Chuckey-Doak’s Kassidy Holloway and Ondreea Shelton 6-4, 6-4 who they had lost to in the District 1-AA championship just a week ago.
The Cox sisters will now play in the state tournament on May 24, in Murfreesboro. Their opening match is at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday (CST) and at 2:00 p.m. in the semifinals if they win. The championship will be played on Friday, May 25 at 9:00 a.m.
The Cox sisters were on top of their game from the get-go. They were flawless around the net and had very little trouble getting their first serves.
“We just came out and played our game,” said Taylor “We were consistent in everything we did. We didn’t get down on each other, and I think that helped. They had beaten us in the District Championship, so we weren’t about to let it happen a second time. This was definitely one of the best matches that we’ve played as a team.”
Last year the Cox’s upset the No.1 doubles duo before losing in the semifinals as freshmen. Olivia said they were determined all year long to make it a bit further this year.
“We came in here hoping to make the state tournament,” said Olivia. “We would have been disappointed if we hadn’t. We have worked so hard in the offseason to make this happen. Beating Chuckey-Doak was special because we felt bad losing to them last week. It made getting to the state even more special because we proved that we belonged.”
Head coach Zack Pitman couldn’t attend Monday’s match because of AP testing going on this week but knew his kids had a chance. Their performance didn’t surprise him one bit.
“We knew they had the potential, but their only problem was getting them to realize just how good they could be,” said Pitman. “They needed to play aggressively so we had them play against myself and some of our top boys’ players last week. Apparently, it paid off. We will continue to work on their shot selection and aggressiveness over the next several days. Hopefully, they will come home with a state championship.”
Assistant coach and dad Craig Cox took the tennis team down along with assistant coach Tim Tugman.
The boys’ duo of Noah Cox and Will Henson lost in the semifinals, and the Longhorns girls were tied 3-3 with a berth to the state tournament on the line but fell 2-7 in the decisive match. Both were happy with their team’s overall play but the spotlight shined brightest on the Cox twosome.
“We knew what their path was going to be to the state once Chuckey-Doak beat North Greene,” said Coach Cox. “They have a very good team, and they’re consistent. We weren’t happy about how they played down here last week but today is one of the best games that I’ve seen them win. They were determined not to lose.
Assistant coach Tim Tugman added. “I am so proud of these kids for the way they represented Johnson County High School. They played their hearts out and gave it their all. I’m really happy for Taylor and Olivia.”
Both girls agreed that the hot summer practices and long hours of workouts were definitely worth the time invested.
“I hate to lose, so it means something to go out and prove that we are a good team,” said Taylor. It’s a great feeling representing little ole Johnson County at state.”
Olivia added. “I wouldn’t trade this day for anything. We now have to focus on winning rings and bringing a state championship back to Mountain City. That would mean the world to us.”

East rallies big to defeat Lady Longhorns

JC’s Alexis Hendley scores from first on two-run double by Emmy Miller. The Longhorns lost the game 16-7 to Sullivan East. Photo by Tim Chambers.

 

By Tim Chambers

Tomahawk Sports Editor
TomahawkSportsEditor@gmail.com

ELIZABETHTON—Johnson County needed a fast start to defeat Sullivan East, and they got just what they wanted. Unfortunately, they needed a good defensive game too, which that did not happen.
The Longhorns jumped out to a 6-0 lead only to watch the Patriots storm back and win 16-7 in the first round of the District 1-AA Softball Tournament played at Elizabethton High School on Friday.
It was not the finish the Horns had hoped for after their explosive opening frame.
“I was very pleased that we came out ready to play, but our defense let us down,” said head coach Angela Blevins. “You have to keep your foot on the gas when you play a team
like East and we didn’t. They did a great job of changing pitchers, and we didn’t hit the ball after the first inning.
They started hitting it hard after in the fourth inning, but we didn’t help matters either by giving them extra outs. We’re a young team with only one senior and three freshmen. I think our kids can bounce back. We just need to play a complete game.”
“The Lady Longhorns opened the game with back-to-back base hits by Natalie Winters and Courtney Brooks. Emmy Miller got them on the board with a two-run double while Maddi Edington had the big blow, a three-run triple that put them up 6-0. Bella Miller also contributed a run-scoring base hit.
The Lady Patriots began to whittle away at the deficit by scoring three unearned runs over the first two innings. The fourth inning would turn out disastrous for the Horns.
East sent 15 batters to the plate, which produced ten runs. Kylee Wolfe tied the game by launching a three-run homer over the centerfield fence followed by another three-run homer from Cayden Bawgus that put them in front to stay at 9-6.
East used a couple of RBI singles from Chelsea Sams and Amber Turner to go up 13-6 before the inning was over. It was over for Johnson County after East brought in Katelyne Loudy to pitch.
She worked six innings in relief allowing just two hits and a solo run.
Winters had two hits and reached base three times to lead the Longhorns. Edington had three RBI’s while Emmy Miller provided two. Cassidy Lakatos and Bella Miller collected one apiece.
East had 15 hits in the contest. Wolfe, Loudy, Jana White, Amber Turner and Bawgus provided two hits apiece.
The Longhorns were to play on Monday in the loser’s bracket against Sullivan South who committed five errors against Happy Valley and lost 3-1.

District 1-AA Softball Tournament
Sullivan East 16,
Johnson County 7

JCHS 600 010 0 – 7 8 8
Sullivan E. 210 (10) 30X –16 15 2

H. Brooks, C. Brooks (4) and E. Miller. Wolfe, Loudy (2) and Bawgus.
WP—Loudy, LP—H. Brooks
HR—East (Wolfe, Bawgus)

Junior Horns 3-peat, defeating Unaka 13-2

JCMS won its third straight Little Watauga softball tournament by defeating Unaka 13-2. The Rangers were
undefeated before Thursday’s loss. Photo by Tim Chambers

By Tim Chambers

Tomahawk Sports Editor
TomahawkSportsEditor@gmail.com

Johnson County didn’t let a pair of losses to Unaka during the season stop them from winning the one that counted most on Thursday. The junior high Longhorns blasted out
20 hits that led to their 13-2 victory
It was the third consecutive championship for head coach Greg Reece and his Lady Horns, but he directed all the credit to those around him.
“We picked a great time to have our best game,” said Reece. “I do not want this to sound arrogant or anything, but we truly believed that we were the best team all year and that it would show. We wanted to come out aggressively with the short game but coaches Abby Reece, and Erin Miller talked me out of it based on how well the girls hit in practice on Wednesday and in pre-game. It’s all about the kids and my two assistant coaches. They have done a bang-up job all season long. We beat a very good softball team today in Unaka. I couldn’t be any happier for the girls and everyone involved.”
Two Lady Longhorns combined to collect half of the hit parade total.
Hannah Fritts hit a two-run homer in the first inning and added a two-run double off the top of the fence that got the home team up and going. She ended the night going 5-for-5 with a homer, two doubles and five RBI’s.

Sydni Potter was
5-for-5 with two RBI’s.
Fritts got the Horns off to a great start by crushing a two-run homer over the left centerfield fence scoring Jayla Gregg who had singled in the first inning. Potter singled in a pair of runs in the third that helped raise the ante at 5-0.
“Fritts’ home run in the top of the first was a monster hit, and it put the momentum in our dugout,” added Reece. She and Sydni both had big nights
hitting, but we had hits all through the lineup. I think every starter had at least one. Having our six through nine batters
getting hits and scoring in the fifth inning was the clincher for us.”

The Longhorns’ pitching.
Unaka’s only runs came when Sadie Shoun doubled in the third to drive in a pair. Johnson County logged seven runs over the final three frames to put the game out of reach.
Faith Walsh, Autumn Shepherd, and Sarah Rider had two hits apiece to complement the output of Fritts and Potter. Jayla Gregg, Hailey Rider, Haley Scott and Autumn Lewis provided one apiece.

Every Longhorn starter hit safely in the game.
Hailey Rider tossed three innings for the Rangers allowing only two runs and three hits. Fritts pitched the final four innings without giving up a run while striking out five.
“Rider did exactly what we needed her to do and got us some groundball outs early,” said Reece. “Hannah came in with her speed and pitched terrific plus she also made three outstanding defensive plays in the circle. Our wins have been team wins all season long. We’ve played a tough non-conference schedule, which helped. I had great parents and supporters, and we had great players. I can’t thank my assistant coaches enough. This was a season that we will never forget.”

Unaka suffered their
first loss of the season.
It was the third consecutive time that the Horns have won the tournament championship.

Little Watauga Tournament Championship
JCMS 13, Unaka 2

JCMS 203 140 3 – 13 20 1
Unaka 000 200 0 – 2 6 2
Rider, Fritts (4) and Gregg. Scott, Shoun (3), Wilson (6) and Bare.
WP—Rider
HR—JC (Fritts)

Lady Horns swat Cougars 15-5

JC’s Abby Cornett legs out a base hit against Sullivan Central. Cornett had 3 hits in their 15-5 victory over the Cougars. Photos by Tim Chambers

By Tim Chambers

Tomahawk Sports Editor
TomahawkSportsEditor@gmail.com

The rubber match game between Johnson County and Sullivan Central had more fireworks than a fourth of July outing on a hot summer night; the Lady Longhorns provided the biggest blasts.
The Horns battled back from an early deficit to knock off the Lady Cougars 15-5 in the play-in game of the District 1-AA tournament on Thursday at Bob Kirksey Field.
Central scored a pair of runs with two outs in the first inning on a ball that got misplayed in the outfield.
The Cougars would return in the favor in the bottom half.
Natalie Winters reached to start the game then scored on a two-run homer off the bat of Hannah Brooks to tie the game.
Head coach Angela Blevins felt like being able to battle back gave her team the confidence needed to come out with a win.
“We had trouble early in the year when we would get down like this,” said Blevins. “But we played through the mistake and tied the game which was huge. We hit the ball well especially Emmy Miller after they walked Hannah three times in a row. I was very pleased with how we played today. Getting into the double elimination round was huge for this young team.”
The Cougars scored another pair of runs in the second inning that upped their advantage at 4-2. This time the Horns would storm back and go up big.
They managed to record five runs in the second inning that put them in front 7-4. Courtney Brooks, Emmy Miller, Cassidy Lakatos and Lindsey Wills all singled and scored in addition to Hannah Brooks who was intentionally walked.
The Horns hammered out a solo run in the fourth then broke the game open with a big blast in the fifth.
Emmy Miller started the avalanche by roping a three-run homer over the left field fence that doubled their lead at 10-5. Base hits by Wills, Lakatos, Bella Miller and Abby Cornett would up their run total to a baker’s dozen.
Courtney Brooks double in the Horns’ final run and pitched a complete game to earn the win.
Emmy Miller had a mammoth game for the Lady Horns going 3-for-4 with five RBI’s including her home run. Cornett added three base hits and scored twice. Lakatos, Wills and Courtney Brooks provided two hits apiece. Hannah Brooks was intentionally walked three times after her first-inning homer and scored four times.
“The girls were determined not to let the season end on our home field,” added Blevins. “There was pressure on them because of it being an elimination game. I thought they played well the whole game.
The two teams had split games during the regular season.
Jasmine Sheffield had three hits to lead the Lady Cougars while Courtney Wills added a pair.

District 1-AA
Johnson County 15,
Sullivan Central 5

Sullivan Cen. 220 100 0 – 5 9 2
JCHS 250 161 x – 15 0 1
WP—Snapp and Horne. C. Brooks and E. Miller
WP—C. Brooks
HR—JC (H. Brooks, E. Miller)

Warriors eliminate Longhorns 6-5

Shane Greer, Bud Icenhour, Gabe Reece, Johnny Arnold, Josh Tierney and Stephen Osborne played their final game as a Longhorn versus HV. They are pictured in order after being honored on senior night. Photo by Tamela Trivett

By Tim Chambers

Tomahawk Sports Editor
TomahawkSportsEditor@gmail.com

JOHNSON CITY—Johnson County was three outs away from advancing in the District 1-AA baseball tournament, but like a dropped cookie, it crumbled at the end. Happy Valley rallied from a 5-2 deficit in their final at-bat to take a 6-5 win at Cardinal Park on Thursday.
Two critical errors led the Johnson County’s downfall in the final frame.
Will Hampton reached on an error after Luke Naylor led off the inning getting hit by a pitch. Kevin Whitaker singled as did Nolan Easlic.
From there the wheels would come off the Longhorns’ wagon.
Another miscue in the field allowed two runs to score while a missed tag at home plate enabled Happy Valley to tie the score at 5-5.
Eli Fleenor’s walk-off single to the left scored Dylan McKeehan for the game-winner. Happy Valley celebrated while the Longhorns looked on in disbelief.
Johnson County got on the board in the fourth inning after falling behind 2-0.
Josh Tierney doubled and scored to make it 2-1, but the Longhorns left the bases loaded to end the inning.
They added four more in the fifth to finally take their first lead at 5-2.
Bud Icenhour and Shane Greer got things started with a pair of base hits while Tierney belted his second two-bagger of the game. Reece Stout added another double and Petie Pavusek walked for the third time in the game to put the Horns up 5-2.
Disaster would strike them at that point.
Stout had two hits, and two RBI’s to lead the Horns. Tierney had a pair with an RBI and scored twice.
The senior trio of Icenhour, Greer and Johnny Arnold collected one hit apiece. Jayden Joiner was 1-for-3 in addition to pitching six-plus innings.
The Longhorns outhit Happy Valley 8-6
Easlic picked up the in on the mound for Happy Valley. He came on in relief allowing one run and two hits over two-plus innings.
Joiner went six and a third innings for the Horns giving up five runs, but only three earned. He surrendered five hits and struck out five.
The Warriors played error-free baseball over the seven-inning span while Johnson County committed the critical two.

District 1-AA Baseball
Tournament
Happy Valley 6,
Johnson County 5

JCHS 000 130 1 – 5 8 2
Happy V. 101 000 4 – 6 6 0
Joiner, Howard (7) and Pavusek. Whitaker, Easlic (5) and Conley
WP—Easlic. LP—Joine