Lady Rockets stand firm
It was senior night at the Field of Dreams in Chapel Hill Thursday night as Forrest took on archrival Cascade in the battle for first place in District 9-A, and by the end of the spirited 4-3 win, the Lady Rockets (16-6, 8-1) were in first place all alone, one game up on the Lady Champions and Moore County.
"That was a good ballgame, we didn't make any critical mistakes in any critical situations," said Forrest head coach Becky Cheatham. "They really showed some maturity tonight, they didn't break under pressure, and hopefully we can take that and build on it."
Forrest starter Brooke Herron worked her way out of a two-on, two-out jam in the first inning on an inning ending strikeout, before Cascade freshman Summer Carter set down the Lady Rockets 1-2-3 in bottom of the inning.
Herron came back to the circle and struck out the side in the top of the second, and in the home half of the frame, her teammates gave her a 2-0 lead.
Senior Courtney Hollandsworth beat out a single with one out before freshman Kiyoko Puca dropped one on the right field chalk line to make it first and third.
Puca stole second and junior Mandi Conley executed the squeeze to perfection, scoring Hollandsworth and sending Puca to third.
Another freshman, Savannah Brothers drilled a two-strike pitch into the left center field gap and Puca trotted home.
With one down in the top of third, Tori Slater reached on a Forrest infield error and one batter later, Kelsey Parker clobbered an RBI double to make it a one-run game at 2-1.
Both hurlers held firm over the next inning and a half before Cascade came back to tie the game in the top of the fifth, beginning with a one-out double by Cari Brown.
With two down, Carter helped her own cause with a laser two-bagger to left, scoring Brown.
In the bottom of the fifth, junior Jessica Harmon singled with one-out and senior Adrean Jordan followed with a base hit to right, putting blue and white runners on first and second.
Now it was Herron's turn to help herself out and she did, ripping an RBI base knock to center field.
Cascade went down in order in the top of the sixth and Forrest scored an all-important insurance run in the home half as Puca lined a single to left to lead off the inning.
Puca stole second and third on a couple of bobbles before Conley beat out an infield hit as Puca wisely remained on third on the play.
Conley took second base with senior Ciara Cook at the dish, and with two strikes, Cook perfectly placed a deep grounder to the right side and Puca raced home, making it 4-2.
That run would be huge in the end.
In the top of the last inning, Katie Molder led off with triple and the Lady Champs smelled a comeback.
Slater came up and bounced a grounder back to Herron, who immediately threw to first for the first out and Adrean Jordan turned and fired home to Kaitlin Toombs, who blocked the plate and applied the tag on Molder to complete a pretty double play.
On the next pitch, Brown drilled a homerun over the left field fence, making it a one-run game with two outs.
The drama ended when Toombs went to screen and snatched a pop-up to end the game.
Herron went 1-3 with one RBI at the plate and picked up the win in the circle, surrendering seven hits, while walking just one and striking out nine Cascade batters in the contest.
Every batter in the Forrest starting lineup had at least one hit with Conley leading the way, going 3-4 with an RBI and a stolen base.
"That is what being a team is about," said Chatham. "We saw what they were trying to do by pitching around our top four or five hitters, and for the bottom of the lineup to come through like that is big."
Puca went 2-3 with two runs scored and three stolen bases, while Harmon put up a 2-4 performance with a run scored.
Sara Jordan (1-4), Adrean Jordan (1-3), Hollandsworth (1-3, run scored), Brothers (1-3, RBI), and Cook (1-3, RBI, stolen base) rounded out the Lady Rockets' offensive output.
Forrest will live on the yellow school bus this week as they play every day on the road at Spring Hill, at Moore County, at Cascade, at Community, plus Friday and Saturday at the Coffee County Classic in Manchester.