By Tim Chambers
The first place Cyclones stormed into Mountain City on Tuesday looking to blow past the winless Lady Longhorns, but found the going tough against “Hurricane Hannah” and company. Freshman Hannah Brooks had a game to remember leading Johnson County to a 6-5 win on Bob Kirksey’s Field.
Brooks caused some major mass destruction by driving in all six runs with two mammoth homers while picking up the win on the mound. What made it more special was their last win over the Cyclones came in 2011.
“It feels great to get our first win, but to get it against a quality team like Elizabethton makes it even more special,” said JCHS’ head coach Angela Blevins. “Our kids never quit and they played with confidence even when we got down by five. Hannah had a great game and we played well defensively behind her. This is the potential that I saw when we started moving people around and getting some others in the lineup. It feels great to finally get the monkey off our back.”
It appeared as if the monkey had a tight grip on the Longhorns in the early going.
Maci West singled in Maci Herman who had walked in the first inning. They proceeded to score four times in the second frame that upped their advantage at 5-0.
Elizabethton sent nine batters to the plate, getting base hits from Haley Fair, Allison Riddle, Kira Dillard, Herman and Jessie Cunningham.
But the tide would turn from there.
Brooks begin to find her groove on the mound and proceeded to retire 11 consecutive batters. She allowed only two hits over the next five innings, but her bat was the weapon that ignited the fireworks.
The Longhorns loaded the bases in the fourth inning. Lindsey Willis was hit by a pitch and Marley Eggers walked. Michala Cretsinger laced a solid single to load the bases.
Brooks stepped in and with one swing of the bat crushed a laser-like grand slam homer off the baseball fence that pulled the Lady Horns within one at 5-4.
“It was good to score because I think that helped us relax,” said Brooks. “My teammates played great defensively behind me. I wasn’t sure if the ball would make it out of the park because I hit a low liner. I hit it hard but was worried about the height. I was just trying to get a base hit and maybe score a couple.”
That forced the Cyclones to make a pitching change, as Lauren Brickey gave way to ace Kellie Cunningham who was hoping to close it out.
Things went well for Betsy until Bella Miller singled with two outs in the sixth. Brooks stepped up and quickly was down two strikes but then came the shot that was heard throughout Johnson County.
“Hammering Hannah” blasted a fast ball well onto the baseball field for a towering two-run homer and a 6-5 lead. Brooks said she was hoping just to put the ball into play.
“I got a good pitch and I hit it solid,” added Brooks about her go-ahead dinger. “I knew it was gone when it left the bat, but I wasn’t trying to hit it out. It meant a lot to hit those against Elizabethton because they have a great team and great coaches. I feel like we have that too. We’re hoping this will give us a lot of confidence for our remaining games. We now have to get ready for Happy Valley.”
The Cyclones got the tying run on with a leadoff single in the seventh, but two fielder’s choices and a pop-up to third would set off a wild celebration by the Lady Horns.
Brooks led the way, going 3-3 that included a double in addition to her two homers. She also went the distance on the mound to earn the win.
She was aided by a pair of good defensive plays from her middle infielders, Cretsinger and Eden Fenner.
Cretsinger and Eggers had the only other hits for Johnson County.
Jessie Cunningham and Herman had a pair of hits apiece for Elizabethton.
Elizabethton 140 000 0 — 5 8 0
Johnson Co. 000 402 x — 6 5 2
Brickey, Cunningham (4) and Fair. H. Brooks and Winters.
WP—H. Brooks, LP—Cunningham
HR—JC (H. Brooks 2)