Lady Rockets return to state tourney

Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Photos by Anthony S. Puca Lady Rocket hero Haley Mathis introduced before the sub-state match up with Columbia Academy.

"Go Haley! Go!" Those were the sweet words that Forrest Head Coach Becky Cheatham remembered after her Lady Rockets hung tough and defeated the 2006 Class A state-runner up Columbia Academy Lady Bulldogs 6-5 in front of a packed house Friday night in Columbia.

The Lady Rockets used a sixth inning comeback, sparked by Mathis' slap single up the middle to win the Region 5-A sub-state game and punch a return ticket to the BlueCross Spring Fling in Murfreesboro.

Lady Rockets score first on Bulldog miscue

Amanda Daughrity has been a great led-off hitter for the Lady Rockets this season and she wasted no time in getting her team moving, lacing a sharp single to left field to begin the game. Senior Kalah Mathis' sacrifice bunt attempt was unsuccessful, but she stole second base to get the job done the hard way.

After consecutive walks to Shelby Stinnett and Gaby Bussell loaded the sacks, Brianda Elmore smashed a line drive to the shortstop, who threw wildly over the first baseman's head in an attempted double play. Two Lady Rockets scored on the miscue and the visitors had a 2-0 lead.

The freshman Stinnett retired the Lady Dawgs in order in the bottom of the frame, the last out being recorded on a great sliding catch in center field by Kalah Mathis.

There was no scoring in the second inning, but the girls from Chapel Hill threatened again in the third inning, getting two runners on with two outs, but Columbia Academy pitcher Callie Still got out of the jam to keep her team close.

Forrest miscues set stage for Lady Dawg comeback

The third inning was a weird turn of events as the Lady Bulldogs went bunt happy on the Lady Rockets. Lauren Bradley led off with a clean bunt single, and then the wormed turned for the home team.

Kristin Brown followed with a bunt up the first line that was fielded by Forrest first baseman Summer Waggoner, who apparently missed the tag on Brown running by. Cheatham argued the call, but the play stood and Columbia Academy had runners on first and second.

A 6-5 force-out kept runners on first and second and Abby Davis laid another bunt down the first base line and went running by Waggoner again to load the bases and Bradley scored on the play to make it 2-1.

Susan Davis knocked in Davis with an RBI single to left and Hannah Hogan doubled to left to score two more and the Lady Dawgs went up 4-2.

In the fourth inning, Still retired the Lady Rockets in order and Stinnett struck out the side.

Daughrity led of the fifth inning with a base on balls, went to second on a passed ball, and then came home on a Kalah Mathis RBI single to center. After a strikeout, Gaby Bussell hammered an RBI double off the right field fence to tie the game at four.

Columbia Academy went ahead on another strange play in the bottom of the fifth as Abby Davis doubled into the left-field gap with one out and then Hogan singled to left to put runners on first and third.

Davis alertly scored when the Bussell tried to throw out Hogan at second to give the Lady Dawgs a 5-4 lead.

Haley Mathis

races home like

a Rocket

Rachel Curtis led off the sixth inning with a clutch single to right field and Destin Payne came in as a courtesy runner for Curtis. Payne then raced to second on a 5-3 fielder's choice by Summer Waggoner.

The play of the year took place next as Haley Mathis slapped a single to right-center, scoring Payne. Mathis ran to third base on the throw home and Columbia Academy catcher, Shelby Burchell's attempt to throw out Mathis bounced off the third baseman's glove and Mathis sped home untouched to give the Lady Rockets a 6-5 lead.

"I was going, said Mathis after the game, I wasn't even looking at coach Cheatham, I knew I had to score! We pulled together tonight, because we knew we wanted it."

Stinnett buckled down in the final two innings, giving up just one hit while striking out three to preserve the victory for the Lady Rockets who will open up play on Tuesday versus Adamsville High School (23-18-1) in the first round of the State Tournament.

Coach Cheatham was happy after the game, but said, "It's good, I am relieved, but we did not play well defensively tonight."