'We wanted to show the who we were'
By Anthony S. Puca
"It was a big win," said junior catcher Brianda Elmore. "We knew we were going to be tired coming back from Florida, and they were going to test us. We wanted to come out today and show them who we were."
Show them they did.
The Lady Rockets (7-1, 2-0) are the Class A state runners-up from a year ago and owners of an incredible 14-year run atop the district and have no intentions giving up the crown any time soon.
Sophomore Shelby Stinnett went the distance in the circle, allowing just two hits and striking out eleven Lady Champion batters in the 7-0 home shutout.
Stinnett had plenty of offensive help as Forrest banged out 13 hits, including 3-for-4 afternoons from shortstop Heather James and second-sacker Gaby Bussell, combining for four RBI's.
Rachel Curtis, who mans the hot corner for the Lady Rockets, was 1-for-3 and drove home the game's first two runs. Elmore, better known as "pork chop," was solid behind the dish and went 2-for-4 with an RBI.
Stinnett was on her game early, setting down the orange and black 1-2-3 in the first, finishing the inning with two strikeouts.
A base running mistake cost the Lady Rockets a chance at a run in the first as the contest remained scoreless.
Cascade's best scoring opportunity came in the second inning when Leigha Carter got a one-out single to right and Mary Jett reached on a throwing error to put runners on first and third.
Jessica Hunt got the Lady Rockets out of trouble, scooping up a hard grounder to first and nailing Carter at the plate for the second out. Stinnett whiffed Murilla Fatima to squelch the threat and keep the game scoreless.
Heather James led off the bottom of the inning with a walk, Gaby Bussell laid down a perfect bunt to beat out the throw that sailed over the first base bag to put runners on second and third and Curtis lined a single to left to score both runners and give the Lady Rockets a 2-0 lead.
Stinnett set down the Lady Champs 1-2-3 in the third, striking out two more.
Elmore led off the home half of the inning with a single to right and Stinnett reached on another Cascade error to put runners on first and second with no outs.
James banged an RBI single to right to score Elmore and Gaby Bussell followed with a sharp single up the middle to score Summer Waggoner who came in and ran for Stinnett.
With score 4-0, Cascade's Torey Hornburger led off the fourth with a ground-rule double to left, but was left stranded as Stinnett retired the next three batters.
The same happened to the Lady Rockets in the bottom of the inning as Bequi Bussell led off with a long double to left, but was left as a lonely runner when Carter got out of the jam to keep the score 4-0.
Stinnett was strong again in the fifth, facing just four hitters and striking out two. The Lady Rockets did not score in the fifth either and the game went to the sixth inning.
Another 1-2-3 inning for Stinnett sent the Lady Rockets to the plate for the home half and they took advantage, scoring three runs. Waggoner got a one-out single to left, Haley Mathis matched her hit, and Elmore reached on an error by Carter that scored Waggoner.
Stinnett hit a laser to center that was snagged by Kat Lohay, but James made Cascade pay with a two-out two-run RBI single to left that made the score 7-0.
There would be no comeback for Cascade as Stinnett got a fly-out to left for the first out, Elmore pounced on a soft grounder in front of the plate and threw to Waggoner at first for the second out, and Stinnett whiffed Laura Jett to end the game.
Forrest head coach Becky Cheatham said after the game, "It was a good win coming off of vacation in Florida, but we can do some things better. I was not happy about our base running today at all. Winning is not everything, we have to improve. You can't just sit around or you will go backwards."
The Lady Rockets' next big test will be at the Chick Fil-A Classic in Brentwood, starting today at 4 o'clock versus the Cornersville Lady Bulldogs.
The Lady Rockets will then face Page at 7 p.m. and travel back to Brentwood for an early Saturday morning match-up with Friendship Christian, the team the Lady Rockets defeated 6-2 to reach the TSSAA title game.