Lady Rockets claim 9-A title
After a convincing 7-1 win on Wednesday versus Moore County, the Forrest Lady Rockets had to fight tooth and nail before coming away with a 3-2 win over the Raiderettes in the District 9-A championship game at Huntland on Thursday.
"We hung in there when the going got tough, we made a couple of mental mistakes, made just two errors and we hung in there and got the job done," said Forrest head coach Becky Cheatham.
Forrest (18-7) will host Houston County in the Region 5-A Tournament semifinal on Monday at the Field of Dreams in Chapel Hill with starting time slated for 6:00 p.m.
"I am expecting a tough ballgame," said Cheatham. "They were out here scouting us, so I expect them to be ready."
Moore County had to go the distance to defeat Cascade in the loser's bracket final and seemed to have the early momentum on Forrest, but some great defense and stout pitching from Sara Jordan kept the game scoreless.
Jordan pulled off a pair of 1-3 line-drive double plays, beginning with an inning ender in the top of the first, and the second double-bubble erased a leadoff runner in the second inning.
Forrest did not get a hit off Moore County starter Kasey Harvey until a two-out slap single to left by Kiyoko Puca in the third.
Puca stole second, but was left stranded before Moore County came up with an unearned run in the top of the fourth on consecutive two out hits by Kyleigh Camp and Mariah Ward, compounded by a Forrest outfield miscue on Ward's hit.
The Raiderettes returned the favor in the home half of the inning as Kelsey Darnell led off with a bunt single before Katie Warrick reached on an infield error.
Jordan sacrificed both runners up to second and third before Liz Daughrity erased the goose egg on the board for Forrest on a perfectly executed squeeze bunt, easily scoring Darnell from third with the tying run.
"Small ball paid off there, that was a perfect bunt," said Cheatham. "They had no chance of getting Kelsey, no chance."
Jordan set down Moore County 1-2-3 in the fifth and Forrest threatened with two-outs in the bottom of the inning as Puca beat out a bunt and stole second again.
Lainey Mays reached on an error on a pop-up to third, but Forrest could not push the go-ahead run across as the inning ended on a pop-up to the catcher.
Jordan beaned Sierra Bateman to begin the sixth inning, but retired the next three batters in order.
In the bottom of the sixth, Forrest struck, beginning with a leadoff single to right by Katie Warrick.
An error on the play sent Warrick to second and Jordan came up with her second perfect sac bunt of the game, moving Warrick to third.
After Harvey got the second out on a pop-up to second, Savannah Brothers laced the next pitch into the gap in right/center, scoring pinch runner Margaret Bryan from third with the go-ahead run.
"Brothers has been huge the whole tournament," said Cheatham. "If we were looking at tournament MVP, she would be it, no doubt about it. She has been our hitter in the clutch."
Jessica Harmon followed with some insurance, slapping an RBI double down the leftfield line, making it 3-1.
Jordan got the first out in the seventh on a fly ball to Harmon in left, but an error on another fly ball to right field by Katie Bowles fell for an error, keeping the Raiderettes' hopes alive as Bowles went all the way to third base.
Savannah Stevens knocked Bowles in on a fielder's choice RBI before Jordan grabbed a ball back to the circle and threw to Daughrity at first, keeping the title hardware in Chapel Hill.
Puca (2-2, 2SB) had two hits in the game, while Darnell (1-3, RS), Warrick (1-3), Daughrity (1-3, RBI), Brothers (1-3, RS, 2B, RBI), and Harmon (1-3 RBI) all had one hit apiece in the contest.
Jordan picked up her second consecutive complete game win, giving up just five hits in the contest, while striking out one, walking one, and hitting two Moore County batters.
"I was a little worried about her (Jordan) today, we have not pitched her back-to-back," said Cheatham. "But, she held in there, her stamina was good, and she did just enough to get a 'W' for us."