In the spring sports season the best laid plans can go awry because of Mother Nature's gift of regenerating the earth with rain.
Experience, perseverance, and a willingness to be flexible as a ball club can pay huge dividends down the road at the Spring Fling.
This past weekend, the rains came throughout the mid-state, creating a mess in the scheduling for the organizers of The Lady Warrior Southern Invitational Softball Tournament in Murfreesboro.
The Forrest Lady Rockets are reining state champions and perennial contenders for the title because of their mantra of not being afraid to play anyone, anytime, even if it means waiting 4 or 5 hours to play or taking a chance and playing when others choose to leave.
This mind-set lead to an undefeated 3-0 weekend for Forrest, starting with a 2-1 hard fought win over Corry, Pa. Friday after waiting almost 5 hours during the weather delay.
Many teams decided to leave, but Forrest head coach Becky Cheatham had other ideas, she wanted to play, anybody, anywhere, anytime.
Cheatham's diligence paid off as Forrest elected to stay and play in Fayetteville Saturday in an offshoot to the tournament that unfortunately would not declare a winner; making it three out of the last five years the tournament would not hold bracket play to determine an overall winner because of rain.
In game one at Lincoln County High School versus Owensboro Catholic from Kentucky, Forrest freshman Brooke Herron persevered too, working her way through some early inning trouble before settling down over the final three innings to notch her first varsity win in the circle in a gutty 9-7 four-inning win over the Lady Aces.
A smiling Herron would say after the game, "This feels really good, I have never been on a team this good. I love being on a team that has my back. I thought maybe I was going to come out after the second inning, but I was really happy when I didn't and got to finish."
Herron gave up six runs (three unearned) over the first two frames before allowing just a solo home run by Owensboro the next two.
Some hot, timely bats that have not always been present throughout the early season for the Lady Rockets helped also.
The Lady Aces put up a four-spot in the top of the first inning, starting with a two-run homer by shortstop Meghan Sims. Owensboro scored two more runs on three consecutive Forrest errors and a single by Sarah Babb before Herron got out of the mess.
Brianda Elmore got Forrest going in the bottom of the first, beating out a one-out infield single. Ciara Cook came in as a courtesy runner for Elmore before Shelby Stinnett hit a rocket off the top of the center field fence, putting runners on second and third.
Heather James blasted a laser off the third baseman's glove that careened down the left field line, allowing Cook to score, making it 4-1.
Stinnett came across the dish on a perfect bunt single RBI by Rachel Curtis and James scored on a wild pitch, making it a one-run Lady Ace's lead, going to the second inning.
Emily Jolly led off with a homerun for Owensboro. The Lady Aces tacked on another run on an RBI single by Morgan Rudy, making it 6-3.
Herron helped her cause, leading off the bottom of the inning with a single up the middle. After a strikeout, Haley Mathis lashed a double down the right field chalk, putting runners on second and third.
Herron scored on a wild pitch, moving Mathis to third. Elmore knocked in Mathis with a single to left and Stinnett got on base on an error by the second baseman as Elmore rambled home, tying the contest at 6.
Meagan Gower came in to run for Stinnett and scored the go ahead run on a single by Curtis to right field.
A walk to Amanda Daughrity and a wild pitch put runners on second and third and Bequi Bussell picked a perfect time for her first hit of the year, driving in both runners with a sharp single up the middle for a 9-6 Lady Rocket lead.
There was no scoring in the third inning by either club.
Herron gave up a lead-off homerun to Sims in the bottom of the fourth and Erica Pendleton followed with a single.
Mathis ran up on a line drive to secure an 8-6 put-out at second on the next hitter, before Herron whiffed the next batter for the second out.
The Lady Aces stayed alive with a single to left field, but Herron got a ground ball out to end the game, securing victory number one as a varsity Lady Rocket.
In game two, Stinnett took the yellow sphere into the circle and twirled a three-hit 5-3 win over Farragut High School from Knoxville, putting the cap on the weekend tournament.
Stinnett helped her own cause, going 2-3 with a solo homerun and two RBI's.
Forrest batted first in the contest and scored run number one on an RBI fielder's choice by Stinnett that scored Mathis, who had led off the game with a single. Curtis knocked in James, who reached on a dropped third strike with a single, making it 2-0
Farragut's first two batters reached on infield errors before Stinnett retired Stephanie Harris on a comebacker. With runners on second and third and one down, Morgan Harris lined a ball to Bussell at second, who alertly threw to Curtis at third for the inning ending double play.
Bussell led off the top of the second with a single and scored on a wild throw by the Farragut first baseman on a Summer Waggoner ground-out.
Stinnett retired the side in order in the bottom of the frame.
With one down in the third, Stinnett drove a 1-1 pitch over the center field fence, giving her team a 4-0 lead.
Again, the two-time, all-state hurler retired the side in the fourth.
Forrest made it 5-0 in the fourth on consecutive singles by Waggoner, Herron, and Mathis and an error by the Farragut catcher.
The Lady Admirals broke up the Stinnett no-hitter with three runs in the bottom of the frame.
There was no scoring in the fifth and Forrest did not score in the top of the sixth.
Farragut came up for their last at bat in the sixth and Stephanie Harris led it off with a single to right field. A Forrest error made it two on and no outs.
Stinnett retired Morgan Holbrook on a 1-3 put-out that moved the runners to second and third. Stinnett whiffed Andrea Murray on a nasty change-up for out number two and the game ended on a ground ball to Curtis by Casey Myrrh.
"I felt good out there today," said Stinnett after the game. "That was some tough competition. Our hitting was outstanding those last two games and our team is starting to come together, just like last year."
Cheatham was also pleased with the day's effort, saying, "I am pleased with the overall effort of the team. I think we learned today that we can hit when we want to. We got some real timely hits today. We can win games with timely hitting and limiting some of the mistakes we made today."