Lady Rockets two wins from state title
The Lady Rockets have had a superstition about being the visiting team for some time, but they may re-think that position after Head Coach Becky Cheatham lost the coin toss before their game and her team came back in the home half of the seventh inning to defeat Whitwell 4-3 and advance to the finals bracket of the Spring Fling.
When Whitwell head Coach Grace Pickett choose to be the visiting team for their contest, the strategy almost worked out except the Lady Rockets never gave up and managed to push across two hard fought runs in the last inning to send the Lady Tigers back to Marion County.
"I felt like we were going to do it, an elated Cheatham said after the game, they just believe in themselves and get it done."
Kalah Mathis homers to give Lady Rockets
The lone senior on the Lady Rocket squad, Kalah Mathis has been huge the entire post-season and she gave her team an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when she blasted a two-two pitch from Amber Webb over the left field fence.
Whitwell came back in the top of the second with the tying run on an unearned run. The Lady Tigers added two more runs in the top of the third on a lead-off homerun over the left field fence by Brandi Nunley and an RBI single by Whitney Long to put the Lady Rockets in a 3-1 hole.
Forrest cut the margin to one run in the bottom of the fourth when Kalah Mathis reached on an error and Shelby Stinnett laced a single to left to put runners on first and second. Gaby Bussell came through with a clutch hit to make the score 3-2.
Stinnett follows familiar trend
It was dejavu all over again for Forrest pitcher Shelby Stinnett as she mirrored her performance from Tuesday night, allowing some early runs, and then completely slamming the door shut in the face of her opponents.
After giving up the three early runs through the third inning, Stinnett allow just one batter to reach base the rest of the game. She struck out seven out of the last thirteen hitters she faced and gave new meaning to the phrase "stopper".
It became a pitcher's battle until the bottom of the seventh when Tuesday's offensive hero for Forrest, Heather James led off with a sharp single to right and went to second on a bad throw.
Cheatham brought in the speedster, Destin Payne to run for James and she raced to third on a Rachel Curtis sacrifice bunt. Payne was the tying run and Cheatham has never shied away from the squeeze in any situation.
The play was on and Summer Waggoner executed the bunt perfectly, scoring Payne and beating the throw to first. Haley Mathis came up and reached on an error by Whitwell first baseman Shonda Barnett to put runners on first and second with no outs.
A passed ball moved both runners up and Amanda Daughrity ended the contest with a sacrifice fly to left field to give the Lady Rockets the victory and send them into the finals bracket.
Asked about the guts to call the squeeze to tie the game, Cheatham replied, "We have the confidence to get that accomplished, it has worked all year for us."