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Girls put up fight but lose to Warriors

Johnson County put up a good fight when the Lady Longhorns softball team went on the road to tackle the Happy Valley Lady Warriors for the first time this season. A combination of costly errors and high tenacity on the part of Happy Valley ended up costing the win, but it was still a game with plenty of excitement.
After their big conference victory over Sullivan South, both the fans and the coaching staff were expecting a strong showing from Johnson County’s girls and at first it seemed like that might be the case. Michala Cretsinger was the first Lady Longhorn to get on base, taking a hit from the pitcher and then advancing to second after Brianna Snyder was walked. A second walk on Jayme Jennings pushed Cretsinger to third and a final walk on Kallie Sluder saw the bases load up and Johnson County receive their first complete run.
Demi Blevins was next up to bat and made good contact on the ball but was caught out along with Snyder in a tough double play that ended the inning. Johnson County’s defense held out fairly strong as the Lady Warriors stepped up to the plate, but eventually gave up two runs with a walk followed immediately by a double hit deep into right field. Making things worse was Happy Valley’s often risky attempts to steal bases, many of which paid off.
“We let them steal bases,” lamented Coach Dana Smith. “They stole multiple bases. They stole second and third several times. The biggest thing to me was that this was not the same team that I saw the night before against South. I don’t know why it was that way. It just was. We just did not play well and they did play well. We made errors and we did not hit the ball very well.”
As Smith pointed out, Johnson County had some real trouble making solid hits. With seven strikeouts and numerous pop ups that proved easy prey for Happy Valley’s fielders, the Lady Longhorns went on a troublesome four inning dry spell. On the flip side, the Lady Warriors were able to take advantage of several lapses in Johnson County’s fielding to make steady gains, bumping in one runner in the second, two in the third, and three in the fourth. Adding in two more runners in the fifth and Happy Valley was leading a dismal 10-1 as the Lady Longhorns came up to bat in the sixth. “We were fine until the third inning again,” admitted Smith. “They went up runs in the third inning, but every time that you strike out or make an error you pay for it, and that’s what I think we did. It caught up with us in this game. I don’t really know what happened. We just didn’t play well.”
That grim beginning aside, Johnson County did end on a high note. In a stroke of luck and keen judgment, five Lady Longhorn batters in a row got on base with walks in the sixth. That alone was enough to send both Kallie Sluder and Demi Blevins home, but followed up by base hits from Cindi Eddington, Michala Cretsinger, and Brianna Snyder, Johnson County eventually saw a huge five run sweep. Ironically those were the only three hits of the game and came at an ideal time to gain some ground.
Yet with two outs already against them, the magic didn’t last, ultimately leaving three runners on base as Johnson County made their last read offensive drive. “We came back,” Smith said. “We had, at one time, people on base but left them standing because we didn’t even foul the ball off. The one thing that Happy Valley did, they fouled off a thousand pitches if they didn’t foul one. They worked hard to get on base. Some fouled off as many as five or six balls just to get on base.”
Still trailing 6-12, the seventh inning was a washout on both sides, ultimately giving Happy Valley a big win at home. So far the Lady Longhorns have seen a real hit and miss season, at times coming alive with their offense while during other games falling flat. There is still plenty of time ahead, and with sparks of success even in the really tough defeats, optimism and enthusiasm is still running high for Johnson County.