The Lady Longhorns officially opened the season with a tough one, playing the Elizabethton Lady Cyclones at home but still facing a lot of first game jitters and costly mistakes. Having held on defensively for the first two innings, it only took one critical error to throw off the whole game.
We had a bad inning in the third and that started it, said Head Coach Dana Smith. By the end we had seven errors, but you cant win if you have even that one error at the crucial time. We made contact on the ball. We hit the ball. There were a few Ks but Elizabethton was having to throw us out and having to do other things but it was either right at somebody or a base hit or something like that.
As Smith pointed out, Johnson County had some good hits but none of them resulted in a complete run. The closest point to reaching home came when Kalie Sluder nailed a huge double in the second and then eventually reached third. The Lady Longhorns gained a third out before Sluder could put her team on the board, missing an opportunity that could have possibly changed the outcome of the game. The third inning broke them, I think, Smith said. At that point we should have scored first. We should have scored when Kali hit that double. If we had of scored first I think that would have made a big difference in the game, for them to feel like they were in the game.
Shaken by those near misses at bat, the team showed some of its youth at the top of the third, missing a couple big plays and allowing a whopping six runners to finally cross home plate before the defense could bring it back under control. When that happened, when they got those six runs you could see them push a little too much, Smith admitted. We were trying to push and it was stressing them a little too much. When you have seven errors thats not a good thing. We dont make errors and we made seven in one game. Of course Elizabethton had their hits. They had two home runs. I asked to walk her and we laid something in there but she nailed it twice. They are one of the most talented teams in the conference but its just about consistency.
Sophomore pitcher Brianna Snyder did her best from the mound, eventually throwing out more than 125 times over all seven innings, but it was still not enough to offset some of the pinpoint hitting from the Cyclones. Down the stretch Johnson County managed three more hits but never really gained another opportunity at reaching home.
By comparison Elizabethton ended up bringing in a total of 12 hits that resulted in at least one run in each of the last four innings, including two in the seventh. With a final score of 0-12 it was far from the opening game that Johnson County hoped for, but Coach Smith still seemed to have a lot of faith in her team. I think right now were going through growing pains, Smith said. I believe that were going to be okay because were talented top to bottom. We have a lot of talent and they get along really well and that makes a difference too. I think that because were so early in the season youre going to see them turn the corner. They dont like this feeling. They believe they are better than that and I think if they just set their mind to whatever it is that they are doing they we will be ok.