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Junior Horns 3-peat, defeating Unaka 13-2

JCMS won its third straight Little Watauga softball tournament by defeating Unaka 13-2. The Rangers were
undefeated before Thursday’s loss. Photo by Tim Chambers

By Tim Chambers

Tomahawk Sports Editor
[email protected]

Johnson County didn’t let a pair of losses to Unaka during the season stop them from winning the one that counted most on Thursday. The junior high Longhorns blasted out
20 hits that led to their 13-2 victory
It was the third consecutive championship for head coach Greg Reece and his Lady Horns, but he directed all the credit to those around him.
“We picked a great time to have our best game,” said Reece. “I do not want this to sound arrogant or anything, but we truly believed that we were the best team all year and that it would show. We wanted to come out aggressively with the short game but coaches Abby Reece, and Erin Miller talked me out of it based on how well the girls hit in practice on Wednesday and in pre-game. It’s all about the kids and my two assistant coaches. They have done a bang-up job all season long. We beat a very good softball team today in Unaka. I couldn’t be any happier for the girls and everyone involved.”
Two Lady Longhorns combined to collect half of the hit parade total.
Hannah Fritts hit a two-run homer in the first inning and added a two-run double off the top of the fence that got the home team up and going. She ended the night going 5-for-5 with a homer, two doubles and five RBI’s.

Sydni Potter was
5-for-5 with two RBI’s.
Fritts got the Horns off to a great start by crushing a two-run homer over the left centerfield fence scoring Jayla Gregg who had singled in the first inning. Potter singled in a pair of runs in the third that helped raise the ante at 5-0.
“Fritts’ home run in the top of the first was a monster hit, and it put the momentum in our dugout,” added Reece. She and Sydni both had big nights
hitting, but we had hits all through the lineup. I think every starter had at least one. Having our six through nine batters
getting hits and scoring in the fifth inning was the clincher for us.”

The Longhorns’ pitching.
Unaka’s only runs came when Sadie Shoun doubled in the third to drive in a pair. Johnson County logged seven runs over the final three frames to put the game out of reach.
Faith Walsh, Autumn Shepherd, and Sarah Rider had two hits apiece to complement the output of Fritts and Potter. Jayla Gregg, Hailey Rider, Haley Scott and Autumn Lewis provided one apiece.

Every Longhorn starter hit safely in the game.
Hailey Rider tossed three innings for the Rangers allowing only two runs and three hits. Fritts pitched the final four innings without giving up a run while striking out five.
“Rider did exactly what we needed her to do and got us some groundball outs early,” said Reece. “Hannah came in with her speed and pitched terrific plus she also made three outstanding defensive plays in the circle. Our wins have been team wins all season long. We’ve played a tough non-conference schedule, which helped. I had great parents and supporters, and we had great players. I can’t thank my assistant coaches enough. This was a season that we will never forget.”

Unaka suffered their
first loss of the season.
It was the third consecutive time that the Horns have won the tournament championship.

Little Watauga Tournament Championship
JCMS 13, Unaka 2

JCMS 203 140 3 – 13 20 1
Unaka 000 200 0 – 2 6 2
Rider, Fritts (4) and Gregg. Scott, Shoun (3), Wilson (6) and Bare.
HR—JC (Fritts)