Lady Rockets reload, beat Shelbyville

Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Forrest eighth-grader Ally Blanton gets ready to hammer the softball out of the ballpark for a three-run homerun in her first varsity at bat in the bottom of the fifth inning. Photos by Anthony S. Puca

The defending Class-A state champion Forrest Lady Rockets just keep on developing young players in a program that does not settle for anything short of winning titles and on Thursday night at the Field of Dreams, the Chapel Hill youth train kept on rolling, defeating Shelbyville 12-4.

"I am pleasantly surprised and I was pleased with our hitting, pleased with our defense, pleased with our freshman pitcher and our catcher (Carson Warner), who had an outstanding effort behind the plate," Forrest coach Becky Chatham said. "It was just an all-around good effort and I couldn't be more excited for a good group of young girls."

Freshman standout

Freshman Lauren Gillespie was masterful in the circle for the Lady Rockets, picking up a complete game victory.

Freshman southpaw Lauren Gillespie picked up her second win of the season, giving up six hits and two earned runs in the complete game victory in the circle.

"That was a huge confidence builder for her and I don't think we have had a freshman pitch a full game since Shelby Stinnett," Cheatham said. "I was just so happy she was able to go the full game and she just did an outstanding job for us."

Carson Warner drills an RBI double in the sixth inning for Forrest, who beat Shelbyville 12-4 Thursday night at Chapel Hill.

Sophomores Jasmine Runk and Warner combined for five out of the 13 hits for Forrest with Runk driving in three runs and Warner knocked in one.

Great beginning

The biggest surprise of the night was a three-run homerun by eighth-grader Ally Blanton, pinch hitting in her first varsity at bat in the bottom of the fifth inning.

It was the seventh consecutive win to begin the season for Forrest with Runk opening the scoring with a two-run double in the bottom of the first inning.

Lauren Gillespie walked the first batter she faced in the game and retired the next five in a row through two innings before she knocked in run number three with an RBI base hit in the second inning and her ensuing courtesy runner, Rickee Gayle Carter scooted to second and third base on passed balls before scoring on a Shelbyville error.

In the top of the third inning, some of the youth came out on the wrong side as Gillespie gave up two unearned runs on two hits and a pair of throwing errors by herself.

Building a lead

Senior Amanda Patterson picked up Gillespie with an RBI base hit in the bottom of the inning, Shelbyville picked up a run in the top of the fourth inning on a squeeze bunt RBI by Abby Blackwell and Jordan Yelensky came home on a passed ball in the bottom of the fourth, making it 6-3.

Gillespie fielded a ground ball back to the circle to get out of a two-on, two-out jam in the top of the fifth and in the home half of the frame, Blanton's blast gave the Lady Rockets a commanding 9-3 lead.

"I am so excited for her, she has just been so eager, you can just see it in her eyes, she just couldn't wait to see if she was going to be able to come out," said Cheatham. "I had a talk with them and there are no promises---if you are going to play you are going to have to hit---so it was a great performance by her."

Forrest finale

Trinity Whitaker knocked in the Golden Eaglettes' last run of the game in the top of the sixth inning and Forrest finished their scoring attack with three runs in the home half of the sixth, including RBI doubles by Runk and Warner.

Senior second baseman Piper Elmore throws from her knees to first base for an out.

Gillespie used her experienced senior second baseman Piper Elmore in the top of the seventh inning as Elmore fielded two ground balls for outs and caught a shallow pop-up in short right field in a 1-2-3 inning to end the game.

"There is still a long way to go and still a lot of work to do, but if we keep working and keep gaining that confidence, we should be OK," Cheatham said.

Shelbyville 002 101 0-4 6 1

Forrest 221 133 x-12 13 2

Shelbyville: Taylor Sanders 2-3, Allie Odeneal 1-3, Trinity Whitaker 1-2, Liz Pendergrass 1-2, Ashlyn Brannon 1-3.

2B: Sanders, Whitaker, Odeneal.

RBI: Odeneal 1, Whitaker 1, Abby Blackwell 1.

Forrest: Jasmine Runk 3-4, Carson Warner 3-4, Jordan Yelensky 2-3, Emma Stacey 1-3, Samantha King 1-3, Amanda Patterson 1-3, Lauren Gillespie 1-3, Ally Blanton 1-1.

2B: Runk 2, King, Warner.

HR: Ally Blanton.

RBI: Runk 3, Blanton 3, Warner 1, Patterson 1, Lauren Gillespie 1.

WP: Lauren Gillespie (7IP, 6H, 4R, 2ER, 1BB, 3K)

LP: Liz Pendergrass