By Tim Chambers
MOUNTAIN CITY — Thursday’s late-night drive around Watauga Lake proved to be a pleasant one for the Lady Cyclones after their donnybrook affair with Johnson County. Elizabethton wore the biggest hitting britches in a 18-15 slugfest over the Lady Longhorns.
’Betsy banged out 19 hits, with five of those being home runs to offset 17 by Johnson County.
Coach LeAnne Click was proud of her team’s efforts.
“We hit it solid — kept our weight back and drove the ball,” said Click. “Give Johnson County credit because they hit it well too. I challenged our team when they got back within one at 10-9, and they responded by scoring eight runs — which was huge. We’re looking forward to today’s game with Happy Valley. I think we’re playing pretty well right now.”
Johnson County found themselves down 3-0 with one swing of the bat in the first inning.
Caley Hodge drove a two-strike pitch over the wall for a three-run homer to get ’Betsy off to a good start.
Unfortunately, the same culprit done the ’Horns in during the third inning.
The “Crusher” Hodge jacked another three run homer with Lindsey Cunningham and Reazyn DeMoss aboard for a 6-0 advantage.
“We came out ready to play tonight,” said Hodge. “We were real energetic and pumped because we had been playing well. I felt very comfortable at the plate today. I didn’t think they would pitch to me after I hit the first one, but I’m glad they did. I really respect their coaches for that. I felt like they played well too.”
A pair of singles by Ashley Arnold and Hollie Harrison enabled Johnson County to get on the board in the bottom half.
The ’Horns plated three more in the fourth inning after DeMoss had hit a solo homer in the top half.
“These girls never quit regardless of the situation,” said Johnson County head coach Dana Smith. “I’m proud of the way my girls battled back. We’re a young team but they’re getting much better. I don’t think anyone should be overlooking us at tournament time.”
Abby Reece delivered a run scoring single to get things started. Arnold had a base hit and would score on Harrison’s second single of the game. A double off the bat of Eden Smith would help whittle the deficit in half at 8-4.
The two teams kept slugging it out with ’Betsy getting two more in the fifth.
Sophie Bremer’s two-run double gave them a comfortable 10-4 advantage, but back came the Longhorns with a five-run bottom half.
Arnold continued to swing the hot bat by driving home two runs with her third hit of the game. Reece delivered another single that scored a run. The score was 10-9 before the Cyclones could escape the frame.
It appeared all but over after Elizabethton put eight more runs on the board in the sixth inning.
Ashley Dykes smashed a two-run homer in the inning. Cunningham had solo as well.
The cardiac kids from Johnson County would not go down without a fight.
They rallied for six runs in their last at bat and had the tying run at the plate when the last out was made.
Hope Nelson drove home a pair of runs with a single. Liza Watson duplicated that with a two-run single of her own. Haley Miller and Abby Reece would also record RBI base hits, but in the end JCHS came up just a little short.
Hodge ended the night going 4-for-5 with two homers and six RBIs. Cunningham was 3-for-5, pitched the win and had a homer. Casey Jones had a pair of hits, including a double. Emily Carr, DeMoss and Bremer provided two apiece.
Arnold stood out for the Longhorns, going 4-for-6 with two RBIs. Nelson was 2-for- 2 with two RBIs. Watson and Reece had two hits as well.
“I can’t fault how my kids played today because Johnson County just hit it well,” added Click. “Fortunately for us, we hit it just a little better and did what we needed to when we had to. I’m pleased because this was a big win.”
Elizabethton 304 128 0 — 18 19 2
Johnson Co. 001 350 6 — 15 17 6
Cunningham and Hodge. Edington, Nelson (3) and Watson. W—Cunningham. L—Edington.
HRs—Eliz., Hodge 2, DeMoss, Cunningham, Dykes.