Cheatham rattles the cage, Lady Rockets respond with 10-0 win
As hard as it is to win a state championship, it may be even a tougher task to repeat.
How can a team re-create the chemistry that carried them through all the trials and tribulations of a season?
Every game, only the best will do because every opponent sees the big bull's-eye of a champion on your jersey.
There is no sneaking up on anyone anymore. Come in with your guns blazing.
And do not be afraid to rattle your own cage once in a while or rest on your laurels.
For the head coach Becky Cheatham and the Forrest Lady Rockets, these are just some of the hurdles they face in their quest for the double bubble.
Coming into Tuesday night's game versus Community, Forrest had lost three of five at the Border Battle last weekend.
Cheatham was not happy about the lack of focus that she believed led to some physical and mental errors that cost the Lady Rockets in Lincoln County.
Cheatham shook the Forrest cage, making some lineup changes and it paid off as the Lady Rockets responded with their first error free game of the season in a 10-0 win over the Community Viqueens at the 'Field of Dreams' in Chapel Hill.
"No one is more proud of what these girls accomplished last year, but we have got to get focused to move forward," said Cheatham in the post game interview.
Cheatham added, "Folks have got to understand that is all about competition. When someone is chomping at your heels, you get better."
Shelby Stinnett set the tone early from the circle, striking out the side of Viqueens in the first inning.
Amanda Daughrity set the table in the bottom of the first, leading off with a double to right field and went to third on an infield single by Brianda Elmore.
Chelsea Johnson came in to run for Elmore and took off for second on the first pitch, sliding safely in.
Stinnett drew a walk, loading the sacks with no outs.
Rachel Curtis drove home Daughrity with a sacrifice fly RBI to right. Johnson went to third on the play.
Courtney Hollingsworth, who came in to run for Stinnett, stole second on the next pitch to Heather James.
James would draw a walk, re-loading the sacks.
Summer Waggoner drilled a single to right that scored Johnson for a 2-0 Forrest lead.
Hollingsworth scored on a 6-4 fielder's choice by Jessica Hunt for a three-run lead before Community got out of the inning.
Meaghan Theirren led off the second inning for Community, singling up the middle.
Stinnett responded again, sandwiching two strikeouts and a 1-3 putout to end the inning.
The game went to the bottom of the fourth with Forrest still holding a 3-0 lead when the Lady Rockets broke the game wide open.
Ciara Cook led of the frame, drawing a tough 3-2 walk. Daughrity came up and laid down a perfect bunt, easily beating the throw to first and sending Cook to third on a heads-up play.
Daughrity stole second on the next pitch from Brittany Haynes. Elmore walked on four pitches to load the bases. Johnson came in to run for Elmore again and followed the three-run train all the way across home plate when Stinnett ripped a double over the left fielder's head for a 6-0 FHS lead.
Forrest added two more unearned on runs on the rattled Viqueens, leading 8-0, going to the 5th.
Brooke Herron came in for Stinnett and kept the pace, setting down the purple and yellow, 1-2-3.
Daughrity got her third hit of the night with a one-out double off the fence in center and stole third on the next pitch. Daughrity trotted home on a 5-3 fielder's choice RBI by Caitlyn Rotchford, putting Forrest one out away from ending the ballgame in a run rule decision.
In the 6th, Forrest first sacker Jessica Hunt made her second great play of the game on Community's leadoff hitter Courtney Vasser on a diving play in the dirt, leading to another perfect inning in the circle by Herron.
Curtis led off the Forrest part of the inning with a single to left, went to second on a 1-3 put-out, and scored the game ender when Waggoner bashed a ball to the third baseman, who threw wildly over first, allowing the Forrest clincher to score.
"That was the first game we have gone without a mental or physical error all season," said Cheatham after the game. "Those people were eager to play tonight. Just look at Hunt at first who was determined that nothing was getting by her."
Cheatham added, "Everyone in there wanted to play, worked hard, and hustled."