Lady Rockets squander chances, fall at East Robertson
The Forrest Lady Rockets had a frustrating evening at Cross Plains, coming up short in a 2-1 loss to East Robertson in Wednesday night’s Region 5A Tournament championship game.
“I don’t know if we were a bundle of nerves or what and I don’t know why, it wasn’t an elimination game,” Forrest coach Becky Cheatham said. “We were shaky and did not get off to a good start and just couldn’t bounce back.”
It was the first loss to a Class A team this season for Forrest (37-4), while the Lady Indians (22-12) made it back-to-back region final wins over the Lady Rockets and evened the all-time series at 4-4 in title tilts.
“They did a good job throwing our timing off,” Cheatham said. “He (East Robertson coach Kevin Evans) probably knew we were timing for number 88 (Val Seay) and we were, but we didn’t do the little things that we needed to do.”
“We just did not play well and you know the most productive thing that can come from this is if we can take this and can learn from it and do our best, we will be ok Friday.”
Columbia Academy (18-10), who won 4-1 at Summertown (31-8) in the Region 6A Tournament championship game Wednesday night, hosts Forrest tonight at 6 p.m. in a do-or-die Class A sectional game.
The four other times Forrest lost a region title game they came back and won the next game to advance to the state tournament, including a 9-5 win at Columbia Academy last season.
“We have to understand that we can be beaten, but that’s a good thing if we can learn from it,” Cheatham said.
Forrest senior Samantha King did all she could do to at East Robertson, going a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate and tossing a complete game four-hitter in the circle.
“Sam did her share,” Cheatham said. “When you can hold a good team to two runs on their home field you have to provide some backup, we didn’t do that and we have to do better.”
The Lady Rockets outhit East Robertson 7-to-4 in the contest, but left 10 crucial runners on base, including two times when they failed to score with the bases loaded late in the game.
“That is so huge, you have to get those runs in from third base,” Cheatham said. “We just did not make good decisions, but that’s on me.”
East Robertson starting pitcher Chase Marlin had Forrest flailing at off speed pitches, allowing just one hit over the first three innings to the potent Lady Rockets’ offense.
Meanwhile, King worked her way out of a bases loaded one-out jam in the first inning with back-to-back strikeouts before settling in.
King roped a double off the fence with one down in the top of the fourth and Zoe Long came in as a courtesy runner for the Forrest pitcher.
Long swiped third base, but was gunned down at home on the back end of an inning ending 5-3-2 double play.
In the home half of the frame East Robertson broke through, scoring a pair of runs on a two-out, two-run double by Malone Thrift.
Forrest rallied with two outs in the top of the fifth inning when Kennedy Gillespie doubled and went to third on an infield single by Emma Stacey.
Katlin Leverette ripped an RBI single to right field, scoring Gillespie and on the throw, both runners advanced to second and third.
Marlin escaped any further damage when she induced another inning ending groundout.
King set down the Lady Indians 1-2-3 in the home half of the fifth and in the top of the sixth it looked like the Lady Rockets would either tie the game or take the lead when Carson Warner led off with a base hit and Jenna Blanton came on to run for the Forrest catcher.
Blanton proceeded to steal second base and Seay came in to pitch for East Robertson, but King followed with a single to center to put Lady Rockets on the corners.
Long came in to run for King and stole second base and when Jasmine Runk laid down a perfect bunt, Blanton was held at third as Runk beat the throw to first to load the bases.
Seay whiffed the next Forrest batter and the inning ended on a fly ball to center field.
King set down the Lady Indians in order in the bottom of the sixth inning and Seay slammed the door in the top of the seventh, striking out the Forrest side in order to end the game.
Forrest 000 010 0-1 7 2
East Robertson 000 200 X-2 4 2
Forrest: Samantha King 3-for-3, Katlin Leverette 1-for-4, Carson Warner 1-for-3, Kennedy Gillespie 1-for-3, Emma Stacey 1-for-3
B: Sam King, Kennedy Gillespie
TB: Carson Warner, Emma Stacey, Sam King 4, Kennedy Gillespie 2, Katlin Leverette
RS: Kennedy Gillespie
ROE: Kennedy Gillespie, Runk
GIDP: Laura Mealer
SB: Zoe Long 2, King, Jenna Blanton
E: Ally Blanton 2
LP: Samantha King (6IP, 4H, 2R, 0ER 7K, 3BB)
East Robertson: Malone Thrift 2-for-3, Alesha Chowning 1-for-3, Jordan Jarrett 1-for-3
RBI: Chowning 2
BB: Lexi Young 2, Dee Dee Dunn
RS: Dunn, Jarrett
ROE: Chowning, Val Seay
FC: Thrift, Ashtyn Blair
E: Blair 2
DP: Blair, Ashton Hudgens, Dunn
WP: Chase Marlin (5IP, 6H, 1R, 1ER, 2K, 0BB)
Save: Val Seay (2IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 5K, 0BB)