Lady Rockets survive, advance to region championship game
Win and survive.
Forrest did that after a sub-par performance against Houston County Monday night in the Region 5-A Tournament opener at the Field of Dreams at Chapel Hill.
The Lady Rockets beat the Lady Irish from Erin, 3-2, earning a shot at the region title Wednesday night at East Robertson, who sneaked by Community, 2-1, in Cross Plains.
"We got a 'W' in our column, but we are not happy with the way we executed things; we know we can do much better, and we expect much better out of them come Wednesday," said Forrest coach Becky Cheatham.
"I don't know if we were a bundle of nerves or not, but we were able to maintain a one-run lead, and that's all you need in the end."
Forrest also earned the all-important spot in Friday night's state sectional round with Wednesday night's winner hosting the loser of the Region 6-A Tournament final that pits Summertown at Wayne County.
"I think that's why we were a bundle of nerves tonight because they knew that and it was do-or-die," said Cheatham. "But the important thing is, we get to move on."
Forrest managed just seven hits versus Houston County and was held scoreless until the bottom of the third inning.
Kelsie Darnell beat out a bunt single to lead off the inning and stole second base before Briar Mays moved her to third base.
Kiyoko Puca finished the job, beating out an infield hopper that scored Darnell.
Amanda Patterson singled with one out in the bottom of the fourth and stole second base.
Jordan Yelensky reached on a Houston County error, moving Patterson to third, where she trotted home moments later on a passed ball.
Darnell dropped a bunt and Yelensky scored on the play, making it a 3-0 game.
Forrest' Katie Warrick held the Lady Irish in check until the top of the sixth inning when Priscilla Ramirez and Cynthia Brake each drove home a run, making 3-2.
Warrick escaped the jam when second baseman Piper Elmore came up with a sparkling play, snatching a hot grounder and throwing to first for the out.
Houston County got a runner on base with one out in the top of the seventh before a strikeout and fly ball to Darnell in right field ended the game.
"I'm pleased we were able to maintain and not fall apart, but I just want us to achieve more than that," said Cheatham.
Warrick picked up the complete game victory, giving up two earned runs on five hits, striking out 11 and walking none.
Forrest (29-5) and East Robertson have met five times in the post-season with the Lady Rockets holding a 3-2 advantage, but the two rivals are tied at 2-2 in region title games.
"East Robertson is a well-coached team, and we have got to have our heads on straight if we want to come out successful," said Cheatham.
"I tried to impress upon them the importance of home-field advantage, we need that Friday."
Houston County 000 002 0--2 5 1
Forrest 001 200 x----3 7 2
Houston County: Priscilla Ramirez 1-for-2, Cynthia Brake 1-for-3, Kaylin Nielson 1-for-3, A. Turner 1-for-2, C. Turner 1-for-2.
RBI: Brake, S. Boone.
Forrest: Amanda Patterson 2-for-3, Kelsie Darnell 2-for-3, Briar Mays 1-for-3, Kiyoko Puca 1-for-3, Katie Warrick 1-for-3.
RBI: Puca, Darnell.
WP: Katie Warrick
LP: Gracie Leslie