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Tiny Day Softball Tourney prepares JCHS for district tourney

The Lady Longhorns participated in the 27th annual Tiny Day Softball Tournament in Greenville this past weekend. Originally intended for three days, the Friday games had to be cancelled because of bad weather, but Johnson County came out ready to play Saturday in a first round against South Greene.

Possibly the best game the girls have played, even among some of their other surprising wins this season, Johnson County got off to a slow start but then came back in the fourth to land an amazing four home runs in one inning. Having already hit one homer in the first, Jayme Jennings officially made her ninth career drive out of the park. Yet the freshman shortstop was in good company against South Greene, as Haley Miller, Ashley Arnold, and Hope Nelson cleared the fence as well. Arnold’s hit earned her 3 RBIs, and by the time the inning finally closed, Johnson County had pushed through 15 runners. South’s three early runs were quickly surpassed by this onslaught, leaving Johnson County to walk away victorious 18-3.
The next round of the tournament seemed like it might also be an easy win, pitting the Lady Longhorns against the Cocke County Lady Reds. The two teams had already played one another earlier in the year at the Kingsport Eastman Tournament, with Johnson County walking away soundly in the lead. With the game timed in this round the Lady Reds took advantage of any opportunity they could to secure a narrow win.
 “We didn’t hit that well at the first part of the game,” said Coach Dana Smith. “Their pitcher wasn’t all that good but she did pitch slow. I don’t know if that was the difference in that game but we didn’t hit early like we should have. We ended up losing after running out of time. The clock ran down and their coach did a few things that my fans weren’t impressed with because they’ll never see me do it. I just think you should play. If it is 75 minutes I think you should play 75 minutes. I don’t care if your home team or away team. You don’t tie your shoes, every batter shouldn’t get up and tie their shoes, and you don’t call a time out and talk to your batter. You call time out to make a substitution. They wasted five minutes basically. We didn’t help ourselves out in that game. We lost by one run, but we came back and the good thing about this team is that you can’t really ever count them out. They’re young enough and there’s enough experience on this team to know that they’re never out of a game.”
Cocke County got off to a good start, landing a homerun into left field, but despite this early advance, Johnson County was able to hold the Lady Reds for the next couple of at bats. A costly error in fielding during the third set Cocke County up for another couple of runs, but a final three runs in the fourth gave them just enough of an edge to eventually pull out a win as the clock wore down.

With the exception of a run by Ashley Arnold in her first at bat, Johnson County kept most of their scoring hits for the last couple of innings, kick starting the offense with yet another home run from Jayme Jennings. Hope Nelson led off in the in the fifth with a base hit to center field, followed by another base hit by Briana Snyder that ultimately gave Arnold another RBI as she landed a double. With those three runs the Lady Longhorns were down by just one. Yet, as Coach Smith pointed out, stalling efforts by the Lady Reds in the 6th eventually ended the game before Johnson County could take bat again.
Now 1-1, the Lady Longhorns faced their last opponent, the Cherokee Lady Chiefs, Sunday evening. As Coach Smith pointed out the last run didn’t go well either. “Against Cherokee I pitched all three pitchers just to see if we could cause something to happen,” Smith said.  “We just didn’t swing the bats. We were a little late swinging and you can’t do that. You have to come out swinging early. They beat us. Cherokee won the B division. They beat Tennessee High in extra innings, and then Greenville beat Sullivan East to win the A division. We’ve gone to the Tiny Day every year and this was the first year that we’ve not either won a division or been a runner up for a division. But, even with the Cherokee loss we learned a lot. As long as we keep learning we’re going to be okay. That’s what you’ve got to realize. Everything has to be able to keep going, and going, and going. That’s what we’ve got to keep doing.”

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