Gutsy road win flings Forrest back to the 'Boro'
Forrest had their backs squarely against the wall in hostile territory at Summertown in Friday night's Class A sectional contest, but mustered up some more magic in a long line of miracles to post a gutsy 5-1 win over the Lady Eagles, sending the Lady Rockets back to the Blue Cross Spring Fling for eighth time in 11 years.
"That was sweet," said Forrest head coach Becky Cheatham. "We knew it could be done if we came here and got down to business and now we get to go again. I have to give them all the credit, I wasn't too happy about the other night, but they didn't get down. We talked to them about what was possible and they believed."
Forrest, the 2008 Class A state champions and runners-up in 2002 and 2009 have now faced Summertown six times in elimination games, denying the Lady Eagles a post-season berth every time.
After a rough outing in Wednesday night's loss to Moore County in the Region 5-A title game, Forrest senior hurler and Columbia State signee Brooke Herron proved why she was voted the District 9-A MVP, twirling a masterful complete game gem over the powerful Lady Eagles' squad.
"This means so much," said Herron after the game. "Nobody believed in us this year at all, nobody expected us to get this far, so I am glad we proved everybody wrong."
Herron gave up a first inning single to Alissa Hunter and one more base knock to Chelsey Olmstead in the fourth, while striking out six and walking three to improve her season record to 25-4.
"It was tough coming down here," said Herron. "We have great defense and they were all behind me tonight like they have been all year."
Cheatham said about Herron's performance, "I think that made her mad the other night and just watching her body language tonight showed me she was more determined. She was not going to be beaten."
Summertown circle dweller Morgan Long was dominating as well to begin the contest, striking out five of the first six Lady Rockets she faced before a Ciara Cook leadoff infield single in the third.
Sara Jordan walked two outs later, but Long got out of the inning on a grounder back to the circle.
Herron set down the Lady Eagles 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning, as did Long in the top of the fourth.
With one out in the home half of the fourth, Courtney Grooms scorched a shot to right center that looked like extra bases, but along came a streaking Cook from center field, who dove, caught the ball, rolled over and held on to rob Grooms.
Megan Kilburn drew a base on balls after the Cook catch and Olmstead followed with a base hit before Herron got out of the jam on another nice defensive play by Kaitlin Toombs at third.
Freshman backstop Savannah Brothers led off with a base hit to start the fifth inning and the speedy Cook made it first and second when she legged out an infield grounder.
Long bowed up to retire the next two Forrest hitters before Sara Jordan came up huge, lacing a 3-2 pitch for a two-run single to left to break the scoreless tie.
Herron faced just four batters in the bottom of the inning and in the visitors' portion of the sixth, Forrest turned on the afterburners, scoring three times on RBI base knocks from Brothers, Mandi Conley, and Jessica Harmon, tightening the vise on Summertown.
In the bottom of the inning, a leadoff walk to Karlie Harville was followed by an infield error on the Lady Rockets to put runners on second and third, giving the Lady Eagles hope.
A fielder's choice RBI by Kilburn made it 5-1, but Herron escaped the jam on consecutive fly ball outs, sending the contest to the seventh inning.
Morgan Long set down the Lady Rockets 1-2-3 in the top of the inning and Alana Long reached on a Forrest miscue to start the last gasp effort by the home squad.
Herron would have none of it, setting down the next three Summertown batters in order to secure the win and a berth in the state tournament for the 27-7 Lady Rockets.
"Now, we just have to keep improving and maintain our intensity and if we do that, we have a chance," said Cheatham.