FMS Lady Rockets off to perfect start
The FMS Lady Rockets, coming off a big come from behind win over intra-county rival Cornersville in Tuesday night's season-opener, shook off Thursday's cold weather with some hot bats and a solid pitching performance from seventh-grader Kayla Gillespie to down Spring Hill 11-3.
"We have started off the season well," said FMS head coach Daniella Hooper. "I hope we are building some confidence in all the girls and in the team as a whole."
Gillespie struck out two Lady Generals in a 1-2-3 top of the first inning and it did not take long for the Lady Rockets to exact some revenge from last year's heartbreaking loss to Spring Hill in the conference championship game.
Jordan Yelensky reached on a three-base error to leadoff the contest before trotting home on a Kayla Gillespie RBI single.
Rickee Gayle Carter sacrificed Gillespie to second, and after a pop-up for the second out, Brooke Paul followed with an RBI base knock to right field, making it 2-0.
Madison Curtis drew a walk and Jasmine Runk reached on a Spring Hill error to load the sacks before Micayla Feller slapped a base hit to score Paul and Curtis followed her teammate home when she came out on the upside of a rundown play between home and third base.
Runk made it a 5-0 contest when she easily scored from third on a wild pitch and Emma Stacey knocked in Feller with a perfect bunt single.
Yelensky came up for the second time in the inning and bashed a single to center field before Gillespie followed with her second RBI hit of the inning.
A groundout ended the inning for the Lady Rockets, who were in front 7-0 and Gillespie took care of business in the circle, sending the Lady Raiders back to the field after another perfect inning.
"Any time the offense can put some runs on the board, it makes the pitcher's job a lot easier," said Hooper. "It is much easier to come at a team from on top."
Runk tripled home Paul in the bottom of the inning, making it 8-0 before Spring Hill got on the board in the top of the third on an RBI base hit by Lady General hurler Malie McGinnis.
Both pitchers settled in and there was no scoring until the top of the fifth when Spring Hill cut the FMS lead to 8-3 on a two-out, two-run double by Jordan Brady.
FMS added a run in the home half of the fifth on a fielder's choice RBI by Shasta Beaty and in the top of the fifth, Gillespie dug in, striking out two in a 1-2-3 frame.
Yelensky drilled a two-run triple that scored Kennedy Gillespie, who had walked and Lauren Gillespie tallied the final run for Forrest after reaching on a bunt single.
Kayla Gillespie finished off the Lady Generals in style, striking out the side to end the game.
"I am so proud of Kayla, she really stepped up," said Hooper. "After the fifth inning, I asked her if she had two more left in her. She just smiled and said, "Yes ma'am". I couldn't ask for a better attitude. I know she was nervous with it being her first regular season start for middle school, but she handled it very well."
Depth A Key
The Lady Rockets went deep to the bench, playing all 16 eligible players in the ballgame and Hooper likes the team's depth.
"It's hard to get everyone in, but that is something that Coach (Bunky) Elmore and I are conscious about," said Hooper. "We talk to the girls about playing the nine who are going to get the job done, but with it being early in the season, and with the team getting ahead early, it gives everyone an opportunity. We are always going to play the nine who are going to get the win, but that changes on a daily basis."
The Lady Rockets travel to the Summertown Play Day on Saturday before an away game at E.A. Cox on Monday and a big home battle with Lewisburg on Tuesday.
"Yes, our schedule is a whirlwind, but everyone should get some experience this weekend," said Hooper.
Kayla Gillespie picked up the complete game win (3 hits, 1 BB, 1HBP, 10 K's) in the circle and had two hits and two RBIs in the contest, while Yelensky went 2-4, with two runs scored and two RBIs.
Stacey (RBI, RS) and Paul (RBI, 2 RS) had two hits apiece, while Grace Thrasher (RS, SB), Runk (RBI, RS), Feller (RBI, RS, SB), and Lauren Gillespie (RS) all had one base knock apiece in the contest.