Tri-Cities Christian spoils Lady 'Landers' comeback

By Wes Holtsclaw

   After being down 24-2 at the bottom of the fourth inning, the Cloudland Lady Highlander softball team rallied back with a complete team effort to stop Tri-Cities Christian.
   However, the Lady Eagles did what was needed in the final inning to beat Cloudland 27-23 on Tuesday afternoon.
   Said Cloudland assistant coach Mary Johnson: "For their first game, these girls showed more heart and determination than we have seen in the past few years."
   "We've got a young, inexperienced team this year," said assistant coach Cliff Hurter. "This game was good for them. They learned a lot, and it showed at the end of the game."
   Tri-Cities came out and had its way in the first inning, as Janna Lowe delivered a single to bring in two runs, which went along with a pair of runs on walks to give the Lady Eagles the 4-0 advantage.
   Cloudland started off well behind singles from Taukia Hughes and Natasha Benfield, but were sent back to the dugout after a pair of pop-outs.
   Deanna Malone had an RBI triple, with Lowe's RBI single giving the Lady Eagles the 6-0 advantage after two.
   Cloudland came roaring back as Misty Baker scored off a Benfield RBI single, giving Tri-Cities the 6-1 lead.
   The Lady 'Landers shut down the flock in their next at bat, sitting them down quickly, which allowed Taukia Hughes to steal a run for Cloudland, cutting the lead at 6-2.
   But just as it seemed like the Lady 'Landers had Tri-Cities where they wanted, the Lady Eagles flew their way to a huge lead.
   Tri-Cities batted around its order almost three complete times at the beginning of the fourth inning, as every player on the lineup scored at least once.
   Heather Lowe, Janna Lowe and Malone were big players in the inning, each contributing to the Lady Eagle cause as they took a 24-2 lead.
   Cloudland was down, but not out. Amanda McKinney, Ashley Timbs, Tonya Simerly and Misty Baker all had a good inning for the Lady 'Landers, as each delivered crucial hits for Cloudland to score eight quick runs, closing the gap at 24-10.
   Tri-Cities had a chance to put the game away in the fifth inning, but only got out with three runs from Lowe, Golden and Megan Sharpe, giving Cloudland a possible last chance, to hold a 27-10 lead.
   However, the mountains opened and the runs flowed in. Cloudland, led by a pair of RBI triples from Tonya Simerly and Amanda McKinney, came back roaring. Taye Hicks, Deidre Stevens, and Hughes all helped Cloudland score 12 runs to put them back into the game at 27-22.
   The sixth inning was a shutout for both sides, going into one final inning.
   Tri-Cities was shut down hard by Tiffany Watts and the Cloudland defense, as the Lady 'Landers prepped for one more chance to win the game.
   They would come close, as Timbs and Hughes scored quickly, but three infield outs would give Tri-Cities Christian the 27-24 win over Cloudland.
   Malone pitched a complete game for the Lady Eagles, summoning six strikeouts in her attempts. Rebecca Clawson pitched the first three innings for Cloudland, before Watts closed the game out.
   McKinney and Simerly led the day for Cloudland. McKinney went four for five with two singles, a double and a triple with four RBIs, while Simerly went four for six with two singles, a double and a triple with four RBIs of her own.
   Boy's Baseball
   Cloudland 12
   Tri-Cities Christian 2
   The Cloudland Highlander baseball team continued its winning ways Tuesday afternoon with a decisive 12-2 victory over the Tri-Cities Christian Eagles.
   "We're improving with our bats," said Cloudland coach Jeff Bradley. "We're hitting the ball better and better each game. Today we had no mistakes in the field."
   After a scoreless first inning, the Eagles were quick to score taking a two-run lead on Cloudland, but that would be all they earned.
   Cloudland came back with four runs of its own to close out the second inning, and blasted its way to the fifth-inning decision.
   Josh Johnson and Caleb Denton led the batting for Cloudland, with Johnson going two for four with a double and two RBIs and Denton going two for three with a double and 2 RBIs. Clint Steiner went two for two with two RBIs as well.
   Johnson started a pitching dual for Cloudland, collecting the win over Rich Crain, while Denton collected the save.