By Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor
ELIZABETHTON—Johnson County failed three times in their previous quest to defeat Sullivan South during the regular season but got the one that mattered most on Tuesday. Playing with a never-say-die attitude, the Longhorns advanced in the District 1-AA tournament play by shocking the Lady Rebels 6-4.
The win kept the Horns alive in tournament play while South saw their season come to an end. The Longhorns played with three freshmen, four sophomores and two juniors in the starting lineup. Head coach Angela Blevins was happy with the girls’ overall performance and ability to play past a few mistakes.
“We always talk about keep our confidence and doing what we can do, and tonight our kids played with a totally different mindset,” said Blevins. “We buried our mistakes and picked one another up. It was a tight game, and we played well to keep it close, and we didn’t quit when they took the lead. We had a lot of players that made plays to help us win this game. Our kids are smart and their good athletes. When we put everything together, we can get good results like we did today.”
Blevins hit the nail on the head after South got on the board first.
Taylor McConnell’s solo home run sparked the Rebels to a 2-0 lead, but the Horns fought back to surge in front in the fifth.
Natalie Winters got things started with a single, and Lindsey Wills reached on an error. Hannah Brooks was intentional walked that proved to be costly.
Emmy Miller blasted a laser two-run single off the leg of the umpire that tied the game then a groundout by Cassidy Lakatos put them ahead 3-2.
Miller took offense to South walking Brooks and pitching to her.
“I wanted to make them pay for doing that,” said Miller. “I was ready to hit the ball. I was confident knowing that I would come through.”
The Horns duplicated that feat in the following inning only this time in dramatic fashion.
Winters and Willis set the table by swatting back-to-back singles. South elected this time not to walk Brooks, and the move backfired. Her towering 3-run homer put the Longhorns ahead 6-2.
South scored two unearned runs in the bottom half, but Brooks snared Mack Compton’s line drive on the mound with two outs that prevented the Lady Rebels from tying the game with two one.
“Hitting the home run was big, but I was more relieved about catching the line drive up the middle,” said Brooks. “We had made a few mistakes but to get that one good defensive play after a few errors is what turns the wheel. We came out gunning for them tonight. I felt like we came together as a team.”
South brought the winning run to the plate in the seventh, but Brooks was able to get the final out on a force play much to the delight of the Johnson County faithful.
Winters had a dynamite game from her leadoff spot going 3-for-4 with two runs scored. The sophomore first baseman said they are feeling more
confident with each game played.
“I want my first at-bat to be my best one because it sets the tone for the game,” said Winters. “I’m just looking to hit the ball hard and get in any way that I can. I love hitting in the leadoff spot. I also loved
beating South tonight and knocking them out of the tournament.”
Hannah Brooks was 2-for-2 with a double, home run and three RBI’s. She was also intentional walked twice. Miller provided the key base hit and two RBI’s. Wills went 1-for-3 and was on base three times. Alexis Hendley was also 1-for-3.
Bella Miller had a key defensive play in the game that saved a run for the Horns. Hannah Brooks scattered seven hit while going the distance on the mound to earn the win.
McConnell and Allison Chapman had solo homers for South.
Johnson County will now face Happy Valley on Tuesday night at 7 PM.
District 1-AA Tournament
Johnson County 6,
Sullivan South 4
JCHS 000 033 0 – 6 8 3
Sullivan S. 000 202 0 – 4 7 1
H. Brooks and E. Miller. McConnell and Townsend.
WP—H. Brooks, LP—McConnell
HR—JC (H. Brooks) South (McConnell, Chapman)