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Huge 15-4 victory for JCHS over Sullivan North Ladies

The Lady Longhorns had a serious case of split personality when they met the Sullivan North Lady Raiders in the second round of district championship Friday. The whole first half of the game was a battle to stay alive, culminating in a huge breakout from North that tied the game at four in the fifth inning.
Johnson County’s offense actually started off fairly strong with Kalli Sluder taking first on a walk before eventually advancing, along with Jayme Jennings, on a hit from Michala Cretsinger. Both Sluder and Jennings became the Lady Longhorns first two runners of the evening, but also the only two until the bottom of the fourth.
That was when Kelsey Duperry, who had scrapped and fought all evening long, finally got into a scoring position and was rewarded for her efforts by a huge home run from Kalli Sluder. Those critical runs made up for a Sullivan North advance in the second that pushed one runner through and saw two left standing. Cindi Eddington held the mound up through the fifth inning, striking out four batters, three of which ended North’s second inning drive. The Lady Raiders bounced back in the fifth in a big way, using a combination of walks, hits, and errors to load the bases and run three consecutive batters to home plate.
A fourth runner on third would have broken the tie and given the lead to North but for a quick third strikeout that ended sweep. Hoping to change the tempo Johnson County put in Brianna Snyder as pitcher, and from the very first strike she threw out it was as if a different team had taken the field.
“One team was there half the game and another team was there another part of the game,” commented Head Coach Dana Smith. “It was going to be whichever team flipped the switch and I’m glad it was us. They put us out of the tournament last year. I’m glad that we got past that hurdle.”
When asked about the pitching change Smith admitted that it did have a big impact on the game, even though Eddington had kept her team in the running. “In my mind I had planned on when Cindi reached a certain point switching pitchers anyway,” Smith said.  “I just wanted to see what would happen and we were keeping the pitch count on us. Cindi just had a bad day. That’s not normal for her defensively or offensively so she’ll bounce back. She just had a bad day, but I knew that if they would just push through we’d be okay. I knew that we understood that when we let balls go past us we we’re going to have to pay the price. We’ve had that conversation about if you’re not hitting you can’t afford to make those defensive errors because you pay the price. Finally, everybody said I’m going to do my best in the box. I think that was the real change. They kind of started relaxing a little bit and talking more. They were very quiet in the dugout for the longest time. They weren’t talking and then all of a sudden they started talking. They calmed down I guess and relaxed enough to have that conversation.”
Regardless of what set off the spark, Johnson County certainly came alive in the bottom of the fifth. Starting with a hit from Kelsey Duperry and taking advantage of a couple errors on down the line, nearly every at bat resulted in someone taking base. Adding in a double from Demi Blevins, eight runners in all reached home plate, effectively blowing North out of the water and sealing a huge tournament win. The Lady Raiders struggled on through the sixth but with Johnson County gaining another couple runs, a loss was all but inevitable. In the end the Lady Longhorns walked away with a huge 15-4 victory.
“Had they given up that would have been it,” Coach Smith said about the game’s ultimate turnaround.  “They haven’t give up all year. That’s just not something we do. I knew when I was looking at them and seeing them, I didn’t like what I was seeing in their faces. Then something just snapped.”