East Robertson comeback sends Forrest on road
Over the past decade the name Forrest (27-9) has been synonymous with success in 1A softball, making the trip to the state tournament nine out of the past ten seasons winning all nine sectional games it has played in since 2006.
Having advanced to the regional final in nine of the past ten years, FHS have lost just three times in the finals with two of those losses coming against a constant rival-- the East Robertson (24-14) Lady Indians from Cross Plains.
Leading 6-3 heading into the sixth inning, the Lady Rockets looked well on its way to four straight regional titles and another sectional game at The Field of Dreams, but a flurry of hits by East Robertson in the final inning gave the lady Indians the title 8-6 in front of a stunned capacity crowd at Chapel Hill.
Too many errors
"We had three errors and they had one," Forrest coach Becky Cheatham said. "We failed to execute a couple of things and when you play in tight ball games that's what happens, so I'll chalk (the loss) up to errors."
"We don't lose we learn," Cheatham added. "So if we walk away from this learning from our mistakes and come back focused and determined to do better on Friday then we should be fine."
The Lady Rockets make the short trip to Columbia on Friday to face Columbia Academy (22-7) and its ace Shelby Cummins, while the Lady Indians head back to Robertson County to face longtime Forrest sectional opponent Summertown (26-12-1), which lost to CA 2-1 on Wednesday night.
Forrest looked ready to blow the game wide open from the onset, knocking three straight singles from Emma Stacey, Amanda Patterson, and Samantha King to start the game with King's hit bringing home Stacey for the 1-0 early lead.
Carson Warner continued the hot start with another single before Piper Elmore reached on a fielder's choice to third base to bring home Patterson for a 2-0 edge.
Jasmine Runk hit the fifth single of the inning to load the bases with two outs, but East Robertson pitcher Deena Phillips got a pop up to second base to get out of the inning with minimal damage.
Lady Rocket pitcher Samantha King retired six out of the first eight batters she faced, forcing East Robertson to leave runners stranded on third during the first two innings before the visitors would break through in the third when Shea Dunn placed a hit into left field past a diving Jordan Yelensky to score Val Seay to creep within one at 2-1.
The Indians finally took the lead in the fourth inning after a Lexi Young solo home run tied the contest.
With two outs the number nine hitter, Gabby Zizzi hit a single to left and stole second and third base before Dee Dee Dunn hit a single up the middle and the 3-2 lead.
After leaving runners stranded on third in the second and third innings, the Lady Rockets took back the lead in the fourth when Amanda Patterson jacked a double to the left field fence, scoring Kelsie Darnell to tie the game at 3-3.
Warner continued the inning with a two-out double to the right field wall to bring home Stacey and Patterson before Yelensky hit a single and when an errant throw to first base sailed over Dunn's head, Warner made a bee-line for home to score the last Rocket run of the game and the short-lived 6-3 lead.
The Indians scored two more runs in the fifth when a Deena Phillips single up the middle scored Katie Pennick and Dunn, but with bases loaded and two outs, King was pulled for Lauren Gillespie who calmly forced Young into a pop up into left field and the Lady Rockets were left clinging to a one run lead heading into bottom of the sixth.
The heart of the Lady Rockets lineup was set down 1-2-3 by relief pitcher Valerie Seay, leaving the door open for the Lady Indians' come from behind win in the top of the seventh.
The number eight hitter, Aleaha Chowning, started the seventh off with a double down the first base line and a Pennick bunt advanced the tying run to third base before Dunn hit a two strike single to right for the 6-6 tie.
Eat Robertson was not done as Phillips drilled a double to left field to bring home Zizzi and Dunn for the 8-6 lead before Shea Dunn grounded out to third base.
The damage was done and the Lady Rockets could not muster a hit in the final inning as East Robertson left Chapel Hill with the region championship.
A win over Columbia Academy will give Forrest a berth in the state tournament for the fifth consecutive season.
"I expect them to get on the bus, be focused and ready to play ball," Cheatham said. "As I told them, our 2008 team was in the same situation. We lost our region final game right here and we had to be the visitor and won, went to the state tournament and won the championship. So if they set their minds to it, do what they're capable of, then we can get that accomplished. It's in their hands."
Forrest will face Columbia Academy in the sectional for the third time in the past decade beating the Bulldogs 4-2 in 2013 and 6-5 in 2007 en route to the Spring Fling in Murfreesboro.
East Robertson 001 202 3-8 15 1
Forrest 200 400 0-6 12 3
East Robertson: Dee Dee Dunn 3-for-5, Gabby Zizzi 3-for-4, Lexie Young 2-for-4, Deana Phillips 2-for-5, Shea Dunn 2-for-5, Ashton Hudgens 1-for-2, Aleaha Chowning 1-for-4, Val Seay 1-for-4
Forrest: Kelsie Darnell 3-for-4, Amanda Patterson 2-for-4, Carson Warner 2-for-4, Jordan Yelensky 2-for-4, Emma Stacey 1-for-1, Samantha King 1-for-4, Jasmine Runk 1-for-4