The Lady Longhorns Softball team eventually kicked it into high gear Tuesday evening against the visiting Lady Rebels from Sullivan South. Starting off a little slow, it took one huge hit from pitcher Cindi Eddington late in the fifth inning to finally get the team going, ultimately racking up two home runs and an amazing 7-1 conference win.
Our hitting had to be consistent, and we did leave runners on, but we were doing our job as far as hitting today, said Head Coach Dana Smith. Defensively there was just one error so we cleaned it up on both ends. I knew that when we broke loose it was going to happen for us. It started happening and then they started relaxing a little more. I think sometimes they get a little uptight, but they kind of started to relax, to play, and let things happen in the batters box and that pitcher was not bad. She was moving the ball around on us and they were having to work hard to hit the ball. She was doing her job.
As Smith indicated, South was doing a pretty good job through much of the game, even taking an early 1-0 lead after nailing a homer in the top of the third. That might have been a second run had Brianna Snyder not pitched a strikeout that left one of the Lady Rebels on third base during the first inning. Snyder was on fire throughout the game, throwing out eight strikeouts in all and working several others through a second strike before they could land a hit. Very few of Souths girls got on base with a walk and most were caught out in the field.
Two such catches were made deep in the outfield by freshman Michala Cretsinger, who is getting better with every game. Everybody was working hard and if you noticed they were moving, explained Coach Smith. Thats one of the things that weve said, if everybody moves then everybody is doing their job. Michala handled both of those balls that were hit out there. The one that went over her head, that went over the fence and there really wasnt anything she could do about that one. She is starting to move really well on the ball and thats what Ive been wanting them to do. Its all just time on the field.
Johnson Countys defensive effort kept the Rebels to one run, but the real game winner came with the Lady Longhorns hitting. Although fly balls resulted in few quick outs, there were plenty of missed catches and line drives as well. Following several hits in the first and second innings that saw Johnson County make it all the way to 3rd base, the Lady Longhorns finally put through a couple runners in the third.
A double by Jayme Jennings advanced Michala Cretsinger and both ended up taking home after follow up hits from Demi Blevins and Meghan Walters as well as a walk on Kelsey Duperry. A third out came with the bases loaded, but the two runs did give back the lead. As close as it was coming into the fifth it could have been anyones game had it not been for Cindi Eddingtons shot over the fence that also gained her two RBIs on Meghan Walters and Marley Eggers who were already on third and first respectively.
I was just happy I hit it, Eddington said about the game changing hit. Honestly whenever I hit them I dont think about it. Its the greatest thing in the world. I knew it was gone as soon as I hit it, but Ill swing at just about anything and if it goes it goes and if it doesnt well it doesnt really bother me. We hit before the game and I think that had a lot to do with it. I knew coming in today that I wanted to hit another one and normally I dont think like that, but I just knew I wanted to have a good hit today. I didnt do too well with my first two times at bat so it was really good to be able to get that one. I told Jayme, Now Ive got one. Its your turn.
Ironically Jennings did hit her second home run of the season in the next inning, closing out the game 7-1 after the Lady Rebels failed to make a run at the top of the seventh. Yet, even though any homer is a reason to celebrate, even Coach Smith admitted it was Eddingtons ball that made the game. Cindis hit started us, Smith said. It was very important as far as putting a spark in our hitting and making everybody take a deep breath and say ok lets do this. Its a good start as far as a conference win. Thats always a good thing to start with. That was crucial to us to kind of pivot around and say yes we can do this. I think it has to be a mindset with them. They have to feel it, to know they can do it.