Lady Rockets' season ends in epic dogfight
Prior to Thursday morning's loser's bracket contest at the Blue Cross Spring Fling in Murfreesboro, Forrest head coach Becky Cheatham urged her squad to leave it all on the field and not give in or give up and her Lady Rockets responded, turning in a more than gallant effort before falling 15-13 in a ten inning, three hour and ten minute slugfest to Silverdale Baptist Academy.
"I am very proud of their effort because you know what, we have a bunch of kids that could have quit a long time ago when Katie (Warrick) got hurt or they could have quit when they were a freshman or a sophomore, but they hung in there," said Forrest head coach Becky Cheatham. "And that will speak volumes about them later, because when you learn how to deal with controversy and overcome, that is the best lesson we can have I think because we are not going to get everything we want in life, but we can sure try hard and give our best effort."
The teams combined for 43 hits in the contest with the lead changing hands eight times and remarkably, the game was only tied once and that came in the top of the seventh inning when Silverdale was down to their last out before knotting it at 13 on an unearned run.
Errors were the difference in the game with Forrest making six miscues and the Seahawks, who were playing in their first state tournament, making just two.
"We gave it all we had," said Cheatham. "We had all the offense we needed, but we had too many errors and just could not hold them defensively when we had to. I felt like we could be in this all the way, but it just didn't work out for us. We played well, but just not well enough."
Forrest senior speedster Ciara Cook had a career day, tying the TSSAA state tournament record with a 5-5 performance at the plate and setting a new record with five stolen bases in the marathon.
Forrest scored first on a first inning RBI single by Adrean Jordan before Silverdale plated three runs in the second and one in the third and fourth innings to take a 5-1 lead.
The Lady Rockets responded in a big way, scoring six times in the bottom of the fourth with the big blow coming on an Adrean Jordan grand slam homerun that put Forrest up 7-5.
Silverdale took the blow and counter-punched with three in the fifth to go back out in front 8-7 and in the process, Forrest sent in Sara Jordan to replace starter Brooke Herron in the circle.
In the home half of the frame, Mandi Conley, Jessica Harmon and Courtney Hollandsworth all drove home a teammate as Forrest went ahead 10-8.
The Seahawks swung the see-saw battle back down in the sixth inning, scoring four times on RBIs from pitcher Katie Henderson, Brianna Leffew, Bryce Killingsworth and Savannah Clay to take a 12-10 lead.
It looked like Silverdale might be ready to give up as they committed both of their errors in the game in the bottom of the sixth, allowing Forrest to take a 13-12 lead to the seventh inning.
Silverdale was down to their last out when Loren Hilton dramatically tied the game on a clean RBI single to right field.
After a Forrest error, followed by a base on balls, Cheatham inserted Herron back into the game and the senior responded by getting the third out on a diving catch by Hollandsworth at second.
With two outs in the seventh, Cook reached on a bunt single and proceeded to swipe second and third, but was left standing on the bag with the potential winning run when Henderson whiffed the next FHS batter to end the threat and send the game to extra innings.
Herron got out of a two-on, two-out jam in the ninth on a grounder back to the circle, and in the bottom of the eighth, Forrest squandered another chance to win as they left runners on second and third with two outs.
Herron set down Silverdale 1-2-3 in the ninth and Forrest could not score with two-on and two outs, sending the contest to the tenth inning and the International Tiebreaker.
Silverdale's Katelyn Crouch was awarded second base as the last recorded out in the previous inning to begin the tiebreaker.
After a pop-out to Herron for the first out, Allison Meadows dinked a single on the chalk in shallow left, scoring Crouch from second.
Herron fielded a grounder back to the circle for the second out before Hilton bashed a double off the fence in left to score Meadows, making it 15-13.
Another pop-out to Herron ended the inning, but Forrest was out of magic for this year when they were not able to score in their at bat in tenth.
Cheatham, who said she will be back to coach the Lady Rockets next season, talked about the bright future of the Forrest program after the game.
"We have got some good young kids," said Cheatham. "We have an outstanding sophomore class coming up, we have some good upcoming seniors, we are expecting some production out of the junior class, and we have some good incoming freshmen. We have some hard work and we are going to have to be committed to that, but you know what, we are going to get it done."
Silverdale lost their next game to Grace Baptist Academy 6-2.
Complete stats for the game can be found at tssaa.org.