Lady Rockets cruise to Region 5-A title
The Forrest Lady Rockets were prepared for the big test that was before them in the Region 5-A title game Thursday night versus a stout Houston County squad and they responded with a rock solid performance that resulted in an 8-1 win over the Lady Irish at The Field of Dreams in Chapel Hill.
"I am very, very proud of everybody's effort, I just can't say enough about them and I just want them to maintain the intensity that they had tonight," said Forrest head coach Becky Cheatham. "With that, they have more confidence going out than coming in and now we just have to build on that."
The win marked back-to-back region titles for Forrest (29-7) and for the second season in a row, the Lady Rockets will host a state sectional game Saturday night versus the loser of tonight's Region 6-A title game that pits a pair of familiar District 11-A combatants in Columbia Academy (36-5) and the defending Class A state champion Richland Lady Raiders (21-6).
"That will be a tough game and we know that," said Cheatham. "They were both here watching tonight, so hopefully we will have something left for one of them."
A win Saturday would propel the Lady Rockets to the Blue Cross Spring Fling next week in Murfreesboro, extending an incredible run that has seen Forrest participate in the Class A state tournament nine out of the last twelve seasons.
Forrest has garnered second place finishes in 2001-2002, 2006-2007, 2008-2009 and who could forget the one dramatic graduation day title in 2007-2008, when they came out of the loser's bracket before sweeping a pair of elimination games versus Trinity Christian Academy to claim the championship.
The post-season has also been fertile ground for District 9-A MVP Katie Warrick, who turned in another monster performance on Thursday, picking up a complete game win in the circle for Forrest, while blistering a grand slam homerun in the fourth inning that put the Lady Irish in a hole they would never dig out of.
Warrick and Houston County starter Gracie Leslie battled through two and half scoreless innings before the Lady Rockets broke through with a pair of runs in the bottom of third on RBI base knocks by Sara Jordan and Liz "The Eraser" Daughrity.
Houston County would cut the Forrest lead in half in the top of the fourth thanks to an RBI base knock by Kaitlyn Hooper before Warrick belted the top of the fence high, line-drive no-out grand slam in the home half of the frame.
Warrick has a dozen home runs for the season, shattering the Forrest all-time record for big knocks.
Ahead to stay
After a scoreless fifth inning, the Lady Rockets turned a pretty 1-4-3 double play to send the Lady Irish back to the field in the sixth, and in the bottom of the frame, Forrest put the game away for good.
Jordan led off with a base hit and was sacrificed to second by Daughrity before Lainey Mays reached on an error, putting Forrest runners on the corners.
After a pop-up for the second out, Amanda Patterson drew a walk and on the fourth ball, the yellow sphere went to the backstop and Jordan scored easily from third, but screaming around third came Mays, who zoomed home still standing, igniting the Forrest faithful and putting a stamp on the victory.
The 8-1 lead and Warrick's dominance in the circle was too much for Houston County to overcome as they went down 1-2-3 in the last inning.
Warrick gave up six hits, hit one, and struck seven Lady Irish batters in the contest.
The Lady Rockets banged out 11 hits in the game with Jordan (3-4, RS, RBI) and King (3-4, RS) leading the way with three hits apiece, while Warrick (2-2, RS, 4RBIs, 2BB) had two and Piper Elmore (1-4, 2RS), Daughrity (1-3, sac bunt, RBI), and Amanda Patterson (1-3, RS, BB) all had one base knock in the title game.