Lady Rockets win a nail-biter
"Oh boy, what a wild way to start," Forrest head coach Becky Cheatham said after the Lady Rockets won in dramatic fashion, 1-0, Tuesday night versus Huntingdon in the first round of the Blue Cross Spring Fling in Murfreesboro.
The game was a classic pitcher's duel, featuring Forrest sophomore Shelby Stinnett and Huntingdon ace Brooke Thomas, two of the premier pitchers in the state.
Each of the hurlers allowed just four hits in masterful performances, allowing no runs through regulation.
Unfortunately for Thomas, a passed ball cost the Fillies from West Tennessee the ballgame in the eighth inning when Amanda Daughrity crossed home standing, for the game winner.
"I was going all the way," said Daughrity after the game. "I was just praying the ball would bounce away and I would be safe. Luck was definitely on our side tonight."
Cheatham was elated with the turn of events.
"We had talked about passed balls before the game and decided we would not take a chance," Cheatham said. "But when the ball bounced to the side Amanda knew she could beat the throw, and she did."
Thomas and Stinnett, who gained her 30th win of the year with the victory, battled back and forth the entire contest, baffling batters with an array of pitches from their arsenals.
Stinnett began with all of her stuff, keeping the Huntingdon crew guessing each time up to the plate. In the first inning, she threw a knee bending change-up to the second batter that set the tone and in the next frame got out of a one on-one out situation when she fielded a hot shot and threw to Heather James, covering second, for the out.
Stinnett retired the next two and then did not allow another hit until the sixth inning.
Thomas was right on too, retiring the first 11 Lady Rocket batters in succession before Stinnett knocked a Thomas change of pace into the hole at short for a single with two outs in the fifth.
Thomas struck out eight batters through the fifth inning and would end up recording 11 strikeouts in the game.
In the sixth, Huntingdon's Hailey Burke led off with a line drive double to left field to get the Fillies going. After a pop-up to Stinnett on a bunt for the first out, Thomas grounded a ball, just right and deep of the second base bag that Bequi Bussell fielded, but Burke beat the throw to second.
Stinnett drilled Heather Odom with a pitch to load the bases, but came back and struck-out Kelia Sullivan for the second out and got Deidra Jordan on a fly out to Haley Mathis in center field to end the threat.
Mathis got a two-out bunt single in the bottom of the frame and Brianda Elmore made it two on with two outs, lining a single to center. Stinnett just missed breaking it open when she scorched a ball that Huntingdon's first baseman Sullivan, snagged for the third out. Neither team threatened in the seventh, sending the game into extra innings. Burke led off the eighth with a single, but Stinnett stayed strong and got the next three Huntingdon batters out, in order.
Daughrity set the stage for the win with a leadoff single to center that was misplayed, allowing her to reach second. Thomas reared back for a strikeout, sending Haley Mathis to the plate and the Forrest center fielder advanced Daughrity to third with a 1-3 fielder's choice.
Elmore was pitched around for a walk and on the next pitch, with Stinnett at the plate, Thomas threw a low fastball that got past the catcher. The ball ricocheted off a backstop pole and caromed off toward the dugout. Daughrity immediately saw the play and raced down the line and scored as the Forrest crowd went crazy in the stands.
"It was a hard game to come by," Stinnett said in the post-game interview. "I told my team I was not going to let them score and they came through. This is a great way to start and now you just win until you can't win no more."