Forrest streak skids to a halt

Friday, May 20, 2011
In her final game, Forrest senior Whitney Stofel (20) had two of the four hits by the Lady Rockets in their 1-0 loss to Houston County in the opening round of the Region 5-A Tournament in Chapel Hill. Tribune photo by Anthony S. Puca

Not since 1997 (Huntland) has another ballclub made the trek to Chapel Hill and beaten Forrest in a region opening match-up, but on Tuesday, the Houston County Lady Irish ended that streak and put a halt to a five-year state tournament run for the Lady Rockets in a 1-0 win.

Forrest head coach Becky Cheatham said, "After the game I told the girls in 1997, we felt then what we feel now about what happened on our field and we made a commitment and we came back and they got better. I believe these girls will do that too."

Cheatham added, "We have to pick it up and go on. You have to store this. This is not a good feeling. I don't like it, they don't like it, but you know what, you have to get better and do something about it."

Houston County's Megan Lowe shut down the Forrest offensive attack with a masterful complete game effort in the circle.

Lowe gave up just four singles in the contest, struck out two and walked two, utilizing her defense behind her to get the job done and they did it well by recording fifteen outs on either weak pop-ups or ground balls that did not leave the infield.

Only one Forrest runner reached second base in the ballgame and that came with two outs in the seventh inning.

"If you don't score runs, you don't win ballgames," said Cheatham. "Our bats didn't show up tonight."

Whitney Stofel, playing in her last game for Forrest, had two of the four Lady Rocket hits and Sara Jordan and Ciara Cook each managed one hit apiece.

Houston County's Leann Baggett led off the game with a sinking arching double to center field before Lexis Norfleet moved Baggett to second on a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt.

Jamie Tolley scorched an RBI single to left that scored Baggett, unknowingly giving Lowe all the run support she would need in the contest.

A less than one hundred percent Brooke Herron worked her way out of the first inning jam with just the one run surrendered.

Herron would leave the circle in the third inning and Sara Jordan and Katie Warrick would tag team a shutout the rest of the way.

"That wasn't our plan, but Brooke has been sick for the past couple of days," said Cheatham. "I just felt like they were getting on her and I wanted to give them a different look and it worked pretty well for us because they didn't score any more."

Jordan pitched a scoreless third inning and would return for another no-run seventh, giving up two hits and striking out two Lady Irish batters.

Warrick pitched a scoreless fourth inning and did the same in the fifth and six, scattering five hits and whiffing four Houston Countians.

Tolley swung the hot bat for the District 10-A runners-up, going 3-4 and Baggett, Kali Gunsum, and Misty Lair had two hits apiece.

"We have to give Houston County credit, they got the bat on the ball, but we did a good job once they were on base to hold them down with exception of that first inning and we know what happens when teams jump out in that first inning and I think it gave them a lot of confidence," said Cheatham.

The win was the first by Houston County over Forrest (22-7-1) in four tries in all-time playoff action.