Lady Rockets eke out win, host sectional
The Forrest Lady Rockets scored one run and it turned out to be the only tally they needed to defeat Moore County 1-0 at the Field of Dreams in Chapel Hill Wednesday night, capturing the Region 5-A championship for the first time since 2009.
"I said before the game that I hope we would end up with just one more run than they got, but I didn't know how true it would be, getting only one run," said Forrest head coach Becky Cheatham.
The win also kept alive a string of 20-win seasons for Forrest, dating back to 2002.
The Lady Rockets (20-7) will take on Columbia Academy (34-15) in Friday night's state sectional contest as Forrest looks to make back-to-back Blue Cross Spring Fling appearances with a win over the Lady Bulldogs.
"This will be a tough ballgame," said Cheatham. "We are going to have to play up to our ability and if we do that, we should be competitive."
The last time the two schools met was in the 2007 sectional at Columbia Academy with the Lady Rockets winning 6-5.
Columbia Academy lost to District 11-A rival Richland 4-3 in the Region 6-A final Wednesday, marking the fifth defeat in five tries this season to the Lady Raiders, who will host Moore County Friday night.
Since the 2002 season, Forrest has made eight state tournament trips, capturing the title in 2008.
Before Forrest's title in 2008, Richland was the last public school to take the Class-A crown, all the way back in 1979.
On Wednesday, Forrest and Moore County were meeting for the fifth time this season and the familiarity was evident as Sara Jordan and Kasey Harvey battled in the circle.
"I was really nervous before the game, because this was our fifth meeting and you know the more you see somebody, the more they know you," said Cheatham. "So, I was pleased to come out with the win."
Both starters allowed five hits in complete game stints with Jordan picking up the win, while Harvey suffered the tough-luck loss.
Neither hurler walked a batter in the contest and they both struck out four batters apiece.
There was no threat to score by either side through the first three innings before Moore County's Sierra Bateman reached on a one-out error and Sara Raby followed with a bunt single in the fourth.
Jordan got out of inning when Katie Warrick snared a line drive at third base, destined for the left-field corner.
Warrick touched Harvey for Forrest's first hit of the game with one out in the bottom of the inning.
After a fly out to right field for the second out, Liz Daughrity came up with a base hit to right field, but Warrick was thrown out trying to go to third, ending the threat.
In the top of the fifth, Jordan got out of another two-on, one-out jam on a line drive double play back to the circle.
Savannah Brothers drilled a leadoff double into the gap in left/center, leading off the home half of the fifth inning.
Jessica Harmon put down a bunt in the dirt that was fielded by Moore County's third baseman, who pivoted and tried to throw Brothers out at third, but the ball sailed awry, allowing Brothers to trot home with the game's first run.
Harvey escaped any further damage with three straight outs, but Jordan remained firm in the circle, setting down the Raiderettes 1-2-3 in the sixth.
Harvey set down the Lady Rockets 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning, sending the game to the final stanza.
After a pop-up and strikeout, Harvey kept the game alive with a two-out single to center field, before Mandy Conley grabbed a ground ball at short and flipped to Lainey Mays at second for the title-clinching force-out.
Mays, Warrick, Daughrity, Brothers, and Harmon all had one hit apiece for Forrest, while Harvey, Raby, Savannah Stevens, Katie Bowles, and Emily Powell had one base knock apiece for the Raiderettes.