JOHNSON CITY — The skies opened up and the hits and runs rained down at Metro-Kiwanis Park on Tuesday.
By the time Science Hill wrapped up a wild 10-6 victory over Dobyns-Bennett, the Lady Indians’ first Big 8 Conference softball loss of the season, the league championship picture had become clouded.
If everything goes to form, D-B’s bid to win the league title outright will come down to next Tuesday’s game at Daniel Boone. But if the Tribe loses that game, things could become complicated.
“We win today, we pull for Boone Tuesday against them,” Lady Hilltoppers coach Jerry Higgins said. “That will tie us all up and it will go to a coin flip, I would imagine, unless somebody stubs their toe against somebody.”
With so much at stake, both Science Hill and D-B let it all hang out in a slugfest that featured 22 hits and a pair of big innings. The ’Toppers put up seven runs in the bottom of the third to push their lead to 10-0 before the Tribe responded with five runs in the top of the fourth to get back within shouting distance.
“I thought we battled back good,” D-B coach Andy Hubbard said. “We were back 10-0 and we could have laid and gotten beat in five. Science Hill and Daniel Boone can hit it, and when they put it all together, you’re in trouble. We can hit it, too, but we just got down in a hole.”
The Lady Indians came up with another run in the top of the fifth when Stephanie Ashe tripled and scored on a single by Sierra Call, but some sparkling defensive plays by the Lady Hilltoppers in the closing innings held D-B at bay.
Center fielder Ali Gorzga made a great catch on the run, her second web gem of the game, to take an extra-base hit from Ashley Christian in the sixth. In the seventh, shortstop Niki Green scooped up a sharp grounder and made the throw to first to end the game with two Lady Indians on base.
Higgins was thrilled to see his team make those plays down the stretch after three errors in the fourth helped the Lady Indians put five runs on the scoreboard.
“We came out today and hit it early in the first three innings and scored 10,” he said. “Thank goodness, because in the fourth inning, we tried to give them all back. Our losses have been that right there — we just haven’t had 10 runs on the board before that happened.
“In our 11 losses, we haven’t bounced back after we’ve had an inning like that. Today we fought through that.”
Errors were also an issue for D-B during Science Hill’s seven-run outburst. Three miscues paved the way for that big inning.
“We made a couple of bad errors, but that’s going to happen,” Hubbard said. “What do you say? They beat us.”
Call was 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs for D-B (29-11, 9-1) and Lauryn Denton went 3-for-4 with an RBI. Makenzie Lilley (16-4) took the loss for the Tribe, though she settled in and threw well after the third inning.
Gorzka and Green each had two RBIs for Science Hill (21-11, 8-2). Megan Griffith (5-3) went the distance to earn the win.
Despite the loss, Hubbard noted that his team is still in the driver’s seat, a position nobody expected D-B to be in.
“They picked us third or fourth and we’re still sitting in first,” he said. “I’m not downhearted and I’m not disappointed at all. I would have liked to have beaten Science Hill, but we didn’t. Life goes on.”