Happy Valley spotted Johnson County an early lead, and spent the rest of the day playing catch-up.
While walks, passed balls and errors keyed a 4-0 Lady Longhorn lead, the Tribe fought within two runs on three different occasions but were unable to get over the hump against a stout defense in Johnson County’s 6-4 win Thursday.
“That was definitely the difference,” said Happy Valley coach Mike Dorsey. “(Johnson County) don’t beat themselves and they played good defense. I’m disappointed in our whole effort, altogether. They had other things on their minds than softball.”
Happy Valley starter Krisley Roberts opened the game with three consecutive walks to Abby Reece, Ashley Arnold and Hollie Harrison. With the bases loaded, passed balls enabled Reece and Arnold to cross the plate for a 2-0 lead.
In the second, walks to Miranda Payne and Meghan Walters put two aboard. An infield error plated the first run, while a 6-3 groundout from Arnold drove Walters across.
Facing a 4-0 deficit, Happy Valley took advantage of Johnson County miscues in the second. Kiara Coffey walked and rounded to third on a stolen base an error. Hannah Blevins offered an RBI single to put the home team on the board.
Brittany Morefield hit a second run across the plate with a single to make it 4-2.
The two teams traded runs in the third.
Eden Smith, Cindi Edington and Haley Miller all singled to load the bases for Johnson County, but the Lady Longhorns were only able to manage one run off an RBI single from Payne.
Happy Valley got back on the board with two outs in the bottom of the frame when Brook Simmons singled and scored on an infield error to maintain the two-run deficit.
Neither team scored over the following three innings, although Happy Valley had two runners in scoring position with one out in the fourth only to see Johnson County pull the necessary stops from the mound and field.
“That helped us out,” said Lady Longhorn coach Dana Smith. “They’ve been in that situation so many times in tournaments, I think it’s starting to show up.”
Johnson County got some insurance in the seventh when Eden Smith singled and advanced on a base hit from Miller. Payne drove her second run across to make it a 6-3 game.
Happy Valley had one final shot and got a run across when Kaitlin Campbell doubled and crossed on an RBI sacrifice fly from Allison Williams. The squad was unable to close it out as Johnson County held on.
“We knew we had a battle because at one point it was back-and-forth, back-and-forth hitting and they were hitting and we were hitting,” said the Lady Longhorn coach. “It was just a good game, all-in-all. It came out in our favor. We battled very well.”
Happy Valley scattered six hits, while Eden Smith, Miller and Payne all had two hits apiece for Johnson County.
Edington picked up the win on the mound with a complete-game effort, while Roberts was credited with the loss for the Lady Warriors.
Happy Valley returns to the field this weekend for the Tiny Day Memorial Tournament in Greeneville.
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Johnson Co. 221 000 1 — 6 8 2
Happy Valley 021 000 1 — 4 6 2
Edington and Walters. Roberts, Morefield (4) and Coffey. 2B—Happy Valley (Campbell).