KINGSPORT - When Dobyns- Bennett's softball team finally managed to break the ice on a frigid Friday afternoon at Indian Highland Park, the floodgates opened.
After going five games without scoring a run, the Lady Indians busted loose for 11 runs on 12 hits in an 11-1 Big 9 Conference win over Volunteer. The win, which kept them firmly atop the league standings, also helped the Tribe atone for a 7-0 loss to Kings Mountain earlier in the day.
D-B mustered only two hits while striking out 15 times against the Lady Mountaineers, who have won the past two Class AAA state titles in North Carolina.
But the Lady Indians got healthy in a hurry when they returned to conference play an hour and a half after the Kings Mountain loss. D-B plated a total of eight runs in the first two innings against the Lady Falcons and never looked back.
"After going through five games without a run, that kind of relieved the pressure," Higgins said.
The top of the order struck early and often for the Tribe (11-8, 7-1). The first four batters in D-B's lineup combined for eight hits, scored eight runs and collected five RBIs.
Freshman Ashley Christian was in the middle of the action, going 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs.
She said there was nothing magical about the afternoon game, it was just a matter of plugging away and playing hard until the slump was over.
"We pulled through," Christian said. "I think we were just more relaxed and ready to play."
Once she had some run support, D-B pitcher Danielle Zimmerman cruised. After giving up an unearned run in the first inning, the senior gave up just four singles in a walk the rest of the way.
Zimmerman (8-7) went the distance, surrendering four hits and two walks while striking out three batters. Through eight games of conference play, she has given up only one earned run.
For Volunteer (7-10, 5-4), the elation that came with taking a one-run lead on the league's most feared pitcher quickly faded away as D-B piled on the runs.
While the Lady Indians have struggled at the plate lately, most of the Lady Falcons' recent struggles have come in the field.
"We didn't come to play," Volunteer coach Jackie Strickler said. "We haven't played well the last few days - it just hasn't been there."
Volunteer's four errors came in the middle of D-B's scoring outbursts in the first, second and fifth innings, turning what could have been a tight game into one that ended early due to the 10-run rule.
"I told the girls you've got to look down deep," Strickler said. "A lot of that comes from heart. But give D-B credit, they came out and hit it."
Erika Snapp was 2-for-3 for the Lady Indians, scoring three times, while Jill Childress scored twice and drove home the game-ending run in the bottom of the fifth.
Zimmerman helped herself with two hits, a pair of RBIs and one run scored. Ashley Lorimer added a two-run single and Emily Street had an RBI double for the Lady Indians.
Paige Copas (6-4) took the loss for Volunteer.
In the morning contest, Kings Mountain (9-2) put seven runs on the board, and the Childress sisters made sure they stood up.
Morgan Childress (9-2), a senior who has signed to pitch at USC-Upstate, struck out 10 batters and gave up just one hit in five innings of work. Jay Childress, Morgan's little sister, closed out the game with five strikeouts and one hit in two innings of relief.
Chelley Christian (2-1) took the loss for D-B.