Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

Girls hold their own in weekend tournament

Johnson County’s girls continue to gain experience on the road, traveling this time to a weekend softball tournament in Dayton, Tennessee where they played in a series of four official timed games against some very talented teams. As expected, the matchups were far from perfect, but even against the really solid teams like Coalfield High School or Polk County, the Lady Longhorns still held their own, coming in no more than three runs away from a win.
In fact it was Coalfield that gave Johnson County the worst loss of the weekend and even then it was only 2-5. “We lost to Coalfield in the tournament and if you lose one at that level you’re gone,” said Head Coach Dana Smith. “They had a more consistent pitcher and I don’t know if that made a difference, but the Coalfield pitcher was better than the others we had seen.”
Defensively the Lady Longhorns were very well represented, relying on the speed of players like third baseman Kelsey Duperry and the raw talents of freshmen like Michala Cretsinger and Marley Eggers in the outfield. “Michala and Marley are doing really well,” said Smith. “Marley is starting in right field and she hasn’t missed a ball yet. Michala is starting left field and she’s also playing really well and I have her in the second position. I kept her there pretty much just to get her some experience. She has a pretty good swing when she uses her hips. Demi Blevins is standing out more. She’s going to get more consistent. Duperry is playing unbelievable defensively. She picks the ball up so quick and gets rid of it so quick the runner hasn’t even got halfway down the line and she has already come around. She’s probably my most consistent infielder.”
Johnson County’s pitching staff held their own on the field as well, a spectacular feat considering the challenges that the pitchers were facing.  “We were inconsistent at Dayton,” Coach Smith admitted.  “Cindi Eddington was sick and I asked a lot of her to pitch. Brianna Snyder was consistent for a while and I asked her to play two extra innings into the next game. It was a bit much for her. She already threw 125 pitches against Elizabethton, but it’s more games and more pitching, seeing more pitching. That’s the reason we went to Dayton, to go away and play people we don’t know and see different pitching, see different umpires. We had pitches called down on the tops of our shoes strikes, and we weren’t the only ones they were doing that to everybody.”
 The Coalfield loss aside, the Longhorns also came up short against Polk County, losing by just two runs 3-5. All of those home plate drives were given up in the third inning as Polk got on a steady roll with loaded bases and a few big hits including a triple. “We played really well against Polk County,” Smith began. “Whoever scored, whoever had a bad inning would determine the game and it was us.  For the longest time we had scored and they didn’t score and then they scored all their runs in one inning. That’s what we’ve been talking about, ‘don’t give up that inning.’ If we can get past that inning and keep our act together we’ll be fine.”
The offense improved greatly in the girls’ game against Sale Creek, featuring a home run hit by Jayme Jennings in the fourth inning. Pitcher Cindi Eddington had a similar homer in the Coalfield game, but Jennings came at a critical time when the Lady Longhorns were very close to tying Sale Creek. With a double from Demi Blevins and a single from Michala Cretsinger, Johnson County really came alive at bat late in the game. In fact it was so close, that Coach Smith didn’t realize the game’s final outcome until it was already over. “I actually thought we were tied when the game was over and they called time,” Smith said.  “I really didn’t know they had scored that run. I thought that it was 3-3 but it wasn’t. It was 4-3.”
With so many narrow shortfalls the Longhorns tried their best to get in at least one win, finally succeeding in a very close game against the Lenoir City Lady Panthers. Big hits came in the first and fifth with a long dry spell between. Once again Eddington and Jennings were able to get on base and eventually complete their circuit. Runs from Michala Cretsinger and Brianna Snyder came later but were just enough to offset the last two runs that Lenoir City made in the fourth. “We scored, I moved some people, we scored again in the last part of the game and that’s what made the difference,” Smith explained.  “They scored at the beginning and they scored at the end and our defense tightened up. We’ve been trying really hard to get a hit every time we’re at bat. In this game, which we won, I talked to them about the fact that we’re hitting our goals as far as getting our hits.”
Regardless of the final record, the Lady Longhorns could still be proud of their effort and results in the face of such stiff competition. Holding even the toughest team defensively and making good contact with the bat, Johnson County’s girls are starting to look like a team with some serious potential. Hopefully the younger players will continue to grow and mature in their knowledge of game and by the end of the season the record might tell a much different story.