ELIZABETHTON—Freezing temperatures didn’t stop two of the area’s best middle school teams from playing softball on Friday in Elizabethton. T.A. Dugger took advantage of a few miscues to knock off Johnson County 4-1 in the season opener for both squads. The pitching by Reagan Armstrong (T.A. Dugger) and Hannah Brooks (Johnson County) was dominant throughout the game. Each team managed to squeeze in a few base hits but the Cyclones proved to be the best defensive team which decided the outcome. “They very well could be the best team we will see all year,” said JCMS’ head coach Greg Reece. “We played pretty well for the most part. We made a couple of plays in the field that we should have. I’m pleased with our effort for no more than we’ve been outside. I thought our kids played well against an excellent T.A. Dugger squad.” The Longhorns jumped on top 1-0 in the first inning.
Brooks ripped a lead-off double, then scored on a base hit by Alexis Headley.
The Cyclones battled back to tie the game in the bottom half. Kaylen Shell ripped a two-out single and stole second. She later scampered home when a hard hit ball by Marley Wagner to left field was dropped allowing her to score. Shell would account for three of the Cyclones’ four runs. She singled in the third inning, stole second and scored on a wild pitch. Armstrong drove her home with a single up the gut in the fifth. Johnson County threatened to close the gap in the fourth and possibly tie the game but came up on the short end of a questionable call. Serena Leonard led off with a single then moved to third on a double by Brooks. Headley followed with a long fly ball down the right field line that was ruled foul by inches. Armstrong walked Headley then got a great defensive play from second baseman Maggie Johnson who threw out Leonard trying to score with the bases loaded. She struck out the next two batters to end the threat. Natalie Winters had a base hit for Johnson County in the fifth but was left stranded. Three of T.A. Dugger’s runs were unearned. Brooks went 2-for-3 to lead the Longhorns. Headley, Winters and Leonard had the only other hits. Shell went 2-for-2 to lead the Cyclones. Armstrong and Bailey McCorbin had the other two hits. Armstrong struck out 12 batters while earning the win. Brooks fanned seven in the loss. Johnson County was slated to play at Ridgeview on Monday. They will play at Bluff City Middle School on Friday.
Johnson Co. 100 000 – 1 4 2
T.A. Dugger 111 01x – 4 4 1
Brooks and Winters. Armstrong and McCorbin WP—Armstrong LP—Brooks