By Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor
ROAN MTN.—A share of the conference championship was on the line when Johnson County traveled to Unaka on Thursday. The game was a classic from start to finish with the Rangers coming out on top 3-2.
The Longhorns fell to 6-2 in the conference after Saturday’s 9-3 victory versus Cloudland. They earned second place while the Rangers finished with a perfect 8-0 mark.
The game was a donnybrook that was undecided until the final out was recorded. Unaka got four strong innings on the mound from Sadie Shoun who allowed only one base hit with eight strikeouts.
Hannah Fritts had a double for Johnson County in the fourth but was left stranded on third.
The Lady Rangers had trouble solving JC’s Hailey Rider who was just as effective on the mound. She pitched five scoreless innings before giving up a run in the sixth.
Lady Longhorns’ head coach Greg Reece said the game went the way he expected it.
“It was a battle, and we knew it would be,” said Reece. “We were slow getting the offense going, but our defense was outstanding for five innings. Hailey Rider pitched the best game of her career, and Autumn Lewis stood out at short. We just could not get that key hit in the third, fourth and fifth innings to break things open.”
The Rangers got on the board finally in the sixth to go up 1-0 after the Horns had left the bases loaded in the previous inning.
Hannah Scott’s triple plated Trinity Bowers who had singled to record the game’s first run, but Johnson County would battle back to go in front in their last at-bat.
Sydni Potter got things started with a double, and Autumn Lewis drew an all-important walk. Faith Walsh tied the game with an RBI single then Lewis scored on an error to put Johnson County up 2-1.
Unaka would rally in the seventh getting a game-winning two-run single from Shoun to end the game
Fritts, Walsh, Potter, Hailey Rider and Sarah Rider had Johnson County’s five hits. Scott led the Rangers going 2-for-2 while Kylie Blevins was 2-4.
Scott ended up getting the win by pitching the final three innings, but it was her gutsy performance in the fifth that proved to make the difference.
Johnson County loaded the bases with nobody out but she was able to retire the next three batters without giving up a run.
Reece said the loss was hard to swallow.
“The problem with this game was that someone had to lose,” said Reece. “Our girls took it hard because they wanted that win but I promised them that we’ll get another shot at them if we do what we need to do.”
JCMS 000 000 2 – 2 5 3
Unaka 000 001 2 – 3 8 2
Johnson County 9
Johnson County bounced back in super ball fashion with a 9-3 win over Cloudland on Saturday.
The Longhorns tied the
game in the second after Jayla Gregg singled and scored
on Sydni Potter’s groundout
but they wouldn’t dent the scoreboard again until the
The Longhorns would score four times each in the final two frames to score their come-from-behind victory.
“It was just another typical game between Cloudland and us,” said head coach Greg
Reece. We changed some things up later in the game
and started hitting better with runners on. This is a tough team we have, and they are resilient. I’m hoping for some big things from them in our tournament this week.”
Johnson County showed its explosiveness by scoring four runs each in the sixth and seventh innings.
Sydni Potter roped a single to the wall in the fifth that drove in three runs. Hailey Rider added a two-run single in the seventh with Hannah Fritts and Haley Cox providing run-scoring base hits.
Kristen Day pitched the first two innings for the Longhorns before giving way to Autumn Lewis in the third who was credited with the win.
Hailey Rider led the hitting going 3-4 for three RBI’S.
Potter drove in four runs and was 2-3. Fritts added a 2-4 performance and scored twice. Cox, Autumn Shepherd, and Sarah Rider contributed one hit apiece.
Karah Fields and Ella Benfield collected two hits apiece for the Highlanders.
Johnson County finished the regular season 14-6 overall and 6-2 in league play.
They’ll play Cloudland again on Thursday in the semi-final of the conference tournament.
JCMS 010 004 4 – 9 11 1
Cloudland 110 010 0 – 3 7 2