Power surge lifts Lady Rockets
The defending Class-A state champion Forrest Lady Rockets took care of business in a solid manner Monday night at the Field of Dreams in Chapel Hill, beating Nashville Christian School 7-1 in the opening round of the Region 5-A Tournament.
"I was very pleased with our effort," Forrest coach Becky Cheatham said. "I thought we did a good job when we caught up with our hitting and we played error free."
Forrest will host longtime foe East Robertson on Wednesday night in the region title game as the Lady Indians barely squeezed by Huntland 2-1 at Cross Plains Monday night.
The two teams have met in the region championship five times with East Robertson winning two and Forrest beating the Lady Indians three times, including a 16-0 run-rule thrashing last season at Robertson County.
"They will have it laid up for us after what we did up there last year, so look out," Cheatham said. "We are playing on our home field, so if they beat us they will know they were in a catfight."
Forrest sent ace Samantha King to the circle versus Nashville Christian and King turned in another stellar effort, tossing six innings of four-hit ball, while giving up one run and striking out two and walking one Lady Eagles' batter.
Lauren Gillespie came on for King in the seventh and gave up one hit and struck out one to finish the job.
"They both did a good job, between them they gave up five hits," Cheatham said. "We hadn't played since Wednesday and I was a little afraid they would be a little rusty, so they did OK."
King and Gillespie were also the recipients of some great defensive work, especially from senior second baseman Piper Elmore, who had four assists and three putouts, while senior right fielder Kelsie Darnell had two running catches and center fielder Jasmine Runk also had a pair of nice grabs.
There was no scoring in the game until Jordan Yelensky slammed a one-out homerun off of Nashville Christian ace Abbi Page in the bottom of the third inning.
"They don't expect that out of that little girl (Yelensky), but she smacked that one," Cheatham said. "There was no doubt about that one, I knew it when it hit the bat it was gone."
King set down the Lady Eagles 1-2-3 in the top of the third inning and in the home half of the frame, Amanda Patterson doubled with two outs to make it 2-0.
Nashville Christian could not solve King in the fourth or fifth innings either and the Lady Rockets added two more runs in the bottom of the fifth on a Brooke Paul solo shot and an RBI single by King.
"What a great job by her with the bat (Paul)," Cheatham said. "I am so happy for her."
Kayli Mothershed finally got the Lady Eagles on the board with an RBI single in the top of the sixth inning, but Forrest put the game on ice with a huge three-run pinch hit double by Madison Curtis in the home half of the frame that finished the scoring.
"I am so excited for these pinch hitters when they come in and get big hits and drive in runs and that will help us down the stretch," Cheatham said. "I don't think we have ever been in a situation where we have so many pinch hitters that we have confidence in."
Gillespie did not yield in the Lady Eagles' final at bat, giving up a one out hit to Katie Cain before striking out the next batter and the game ended on a groundout and pop-up to Yelensky at shortstop.
Nashville Christian 000 001 0-1 5 3
Forrest 011 023 X-7 9 0
Nashville Christian: Kayli Mothershed 2-for-3, Abbie Page 1-for-3, Faith Martin 1-for-2, Katie Cain 1-for-2
BB: Sadie Smith
Forrest: Brooke Paul 2-for-3, Kelsie Darnell 2-for-2, Madison Curtis 1-for-1, Amanda Patterson 1-for-4, Rickee Gayle Carter 1-for-1, Jordan Yelensky 1-for-2, Ally Blanton 1-for-1
RS: Paul 2, Darnell 2, Carter, Yelensky, Micayla Feller
2B: Curtis, Patterson
HR: Jordan Yelensky, Brooke Paul
RBI: Curtis 3, Yelensky, Paul, Patterson
SAC: Piper Elmore, Darnell
WP: Samantha King (6IP, 4H, 1R, 1ER, 2K, BB), Lauren Gillespie (1IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 1K, 0BB)