KINGSPORT - There's a first time for everything, and Chelley Christian's first career home run couldn't have come at a better time for Dobyns-Bennett.
Christian slammed a fastball off of the scoreboard beyond the center field fence to give the Lady Indians a 1-0 Big 9 Conference win over Science Hill on Tuesday.
"Honestly, I've been in a big slump," said Christian, a junior. "That's my first home run ever on any level. In all these years, I haven't hit a home run."
That changed in the home half of the fifth inning when Christian landed the barrel of her bat directly on an Ashleigh Jackson fastball and broke up a scoreless tie.
For the Lady Hilltoppers' ace, her only miscue of the day proved to be one too many.
"Ashleigh made one mistake," Science Hill coach Bob Dempsey said. "When you get it up and away, it can get hit pretty hard, and that one got hit hard."
The slim one-run lead stood up thanks to a brilliant effort in the circle by Danielle Zimmerman.
Zimmerman (5-3) hurled seven innings of shutout ball, giving up just two hits while striking out nine batters and walking none.
Science Hill (4-3, 2-1) only had three baserunners on the afternoon and never managed to get one of them into scoring position.
While Christian's long ball was the difference on the scoreboard, D-B coach Jerry Higgins said some good at-bats early in the game may have helped to wear Jackson down.
"I told the girls that we needed to get a lot of pitches, foul some balls off," Higgins said. "She's only thrown a couple games and she's not at her best yet."
Whether she was at her best or not, Jackson (2-2) ultimately fell victim to a lack of run support.
Jackson gave up just three hits and one run over six innings of work while striking out eight batters and walking one.
She managed to work her way out of a jam in the third inning by striking out the side to strand a pair of Indians in scoring position, but the Lady Hilltopper bats never came to Jackson's rescue.
Higgins was also pleased to see the defensive effort by D-B (5-3, 3-1). After struggling with errors last season, the return of Jill Childress at second base and Jessica Greene at shortstop has solidified the Tribe's defense.
"On defense, we had no errors and no bad decisions," Higgins said. "That was the game right there."
Zimmerman added a double for D-B while Shea Hensley had a single, reached on an error and stole a base.
Mary Nell Conner and Ellyn Sapp each singled to account for the Lady Hilltoppers' two hits.
With the win, the Lady Indians pull into a tie with Science Hill in the loss column after dropping their first conference game against David Crockett.
Higgins hopes this win is the blueprint for many more to come for his team.
"I've preached to them that if we focus and make plays, we'll be in every game," Higgins said. "And if we pull out a couple of runs, we'll win a lot of games."