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Horns play strong in win over Unaka

The Lady Longhorns were back on the upside of things at home last Thursday against Unaka. The Lady Rangers faced Johnson County on one of their best offensive games so far and fans were treated to two homeruns, including one huge grand slam in the second from Jayme Jennings. A homer from Cindi Eddington came later in the fourth, also giving her an RBI on Kourtney Tolley.
Those two hits aside, Johnson County was already well on their way to a huge win with just about everyone in the lineup making at least one hit and usually picking up a couple runs by the end of the evening. Even so, Coach Smith still firmly believed that the performance of the girls’ better known sluggers also had a big impact on the rest of the team. “That made them realize,” Smith said. “I think sometimes our other hitters follow our big hitters like Cindi and Jayme. Sometimes it’s a belief in themselves that has to come when they are young, but that’s the thing; as a coach you want them to show what they can do. Even though we are young we’re very talented top to bottom.”
The other deciding factor of the game came from the defensive side, when pitcher Brianna Snyder made waves herself after throwing out a very nearly perfect game. It was strike after strike and even when one of the Lady Rangers did manage to land a hit the fielding was right there to back Snyder up, a fact that she took great relief in.
“We had at least seven errors against University High and didn’t make any tonight,” Snyder said after the game. “I felt like the infield backed me up really well today and that makes a big difference. I just kind of tried to relax.  It feels a lot better to know that your offense can back you up and you don’t have to keep them from scoring at all. I think everybody feels like there’s more at stake when were at home because people we know are watching. It’s a bigger deal. We’ve not had a great season so this gives us back our confidence a little bit.”
Coach Smith was equally impressed with Snyder’s performance and also attributed it to the growing unity of the team. “Brianna had a perfect game going into that homerun in the fifth,” Smith began. “It would have been a perfect game up to that point. She did a really good job today hitting her spots. The team effort today was there and that’s one of the things that we have been working toward. To try to get to that point where everybody is doing what they are supposed to be doing.”
Snyder’s amazing record up to the fifth inning did take a slight falter after Unaka landed a run of their own, and carried a second runner in as an RBI. Yet, that single push aside the Lady Rangers were unable to gain any ground against the Longhorns who at that time already had a whopping 12 runs to their credit. Another four got added at the bottom of the fifth as Meghan Walters, Kourtney Tolley, Cindi Eddington, and Brianna Snyder all managed to reach home before a third out could be called.
Now leading 16-2 game officials called a mercy ruling and ended the game in the fifth, leaving Johnson County with one of their biggest victories this year. The celebration was tinged by the memory of a couple of equally spectacular losses earlier in the week, an issue that seemed to bother Coach Smith even after the win. “Consistency,” Smith said.  “That’s one thing we have been working really hard on; getting to be more consistent in the field and more consistent with our bats. We’re having issues where sometimes we don’t make any errors like today but then we’ll make five. Then we’ll make no errors again, and then we’ll make eight.  For today I changed the lineup a little bit. I changed it defensively to see what would happen and it worked out really well.”