By Rick Sheek
MOUNTAIN CITY — The rebuilding mode with Hampton’s softball team continues to impress.
The wins just aren’t stacking up yet.
The Lady Bulldogs rallied for a three-run lead in the fifth inning on Thursday, only to see Johnson County finish strong for an 8-6 non-conference victory at Bob Kirksey Field.
“We’re still stranding,” Hampton coach Bill Doss said. “You’re not going to win games like that, especially close ones. But, our time is coming.
“We’re getting there. Every game we’re getting better and better.”
For the record, the Bulldogs (1-5) left 10 baserunners on.
Johnson County (4-4) trailed 5-2 before punching in four runs in the bottom of the fifth. Eden Smith ripped a run-scoring single, Cindi Edington mashed a two-run double and an error plated a score to spur the Longhorns ahead 6-5.
“The one thing about this group is you can never rule them out,” Johnson County coach Dana Smith said. “That’s the good thing about them. They’re not ever going to give up on you.
“That tells a lot about their character. That’s a lot about who they are, when they don’t get down — they just keep fighting, fighting and fighting. They know they have to do that.”
Smith tagged another run-scoring single and an error brought in the final score, pushing the advantage to 8-5 in the sixth.
Molly Crabtree led off the seventh with a single and a hit batter put two on. Maggie Burchett punched a run scoring single, before Edington retired the next three batters — leaving two on.
“Sooner or later we’ll get over that hump, and start winning some games,” Doss said. “But you can’t take anything away from Johnson County. They’ve got a good program, good coaches and they battled too.
“We just didn’t get the breaks today we needed, but we’ve been there so far in our games. We’ve just got to get those baserunners in. We’re stranding too many.”
Hampton’s Carmen Calderon batted 3 for 4, while Molly Crabtree went 2 for 4. Crabtree was touched for 13 hits, six earned runs, struck out four, walked one and hurled two wild pitches.
Edington scattered 10 hits and allowed five earned runs. She fanned four, threw one wild pitch and hit two batters.
Edington was 2 for 4 with four RBIs. Smith went 2 for 4 with two RBIs and two steals.
Miranda Payne and Liza Watson were each 2 for 3. Ashley Arnold was 2 for 4.
Calderon singled in the first, when Hampton left two on. The Bulldogs also stranded a pair in the second.
Edington blasted a two-run homer in the bottom half of that inning. Calderon again singled in the third,when Hampton stranded two.
Johnson County was retired in the third after Hampton catcher Danielle Guinn hooked up with Taylor Berry to pick a runner off first base. Katie Burchett singled in the fourth, when an error plated a run to cut the deficit to 2-1.
The Bulldogs turned a double play in the bottom half of that inning when Guinn gloved a fly and fired to Berry for the pick-off.
Sadie Fletcher and Calderon led off the fifth with singles, before Crabtree knotted the affair with a run-scoring single. Haylee Sloan spurred Hampton ahead with a two-run double and Berry made it 5-2 with a run-scoring single.
On the evening, Johnson County committed five errors.
“We had a lot of errors the first part of the game that hurt us,” Smith said. “That’s so unusual for us. We’ve got to cut that out. We’ve got to do something better.”
Hampton 000 140 1 — 6 10 3
Johnson Co. 020 042 x — 8 13 5
Crabtree and Guinn. Edington and Watson. W—Edington (4-3). L—Crabtree (1-5). HRs—JC, Edington (2).