Lady Rockets pull out OT thriller, head to state title game

Friday, May 26, 2017
Kayla Gillespie delivers the game-winning hit in the bottom of the eighth inning, sending Forrest to a 4-3 win and a spot in the Class A title today.
Tribune photos by Mike Inglsbee

Forrest and Summertown had met seven times in May post-season contests prior to Thursday night’s Class A winner’s bracket final in the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association’s Spring Fling Championships with the Lady Rockets winning every time.

But it was the first ever state tournament tilt between the two rural small town schools and the game was an edge of the seat affair the entire time as Forrest made it eight wins in a row over the Lady Eagles via a 4-3 eight-inning triumph that ended with a walk off RBI single by Kayla Gillespie.

“It was a little too exciting for my blood, it liked to make the top of my head come off a time or two,” Forrest coach Becky Cheatham said. “We say we are never giving in and never giving up and there is another example.”

“They are working towards that goal, they could have laid down and quit on me because I was on them pretty hot.”

The victory over Summertown earned Forrest (41-4) its sixth appearance in the championship game where they have won two titles and finished second three times.

The Lady Rockets take on the winner of this morning’s loser’s bracket final between Summertown and the defending champion Meigs County Lady Tigers in the championship game at 2 p.m. in Murfreesboro.

Whichever team comes out of the loser’s bracket final will have to beat Forrest twice today to snatch the title away from the Lady Rockets.

Forrest coach Becky Cheatham congratulates a happy bunch of Lady Rockets after they beat Summertown 4-3 in eight innings.

“We are going to see who wins that game and set our timing based on that pitcher, but I can tell you one thing, it feels a lot better to be chased than to be the chaser,” Cheatham said.

Kayla Gillespie’s game winner capped off a come from behind win for Forrest, which seemed to get off to a slow start after winning Wednesday night’s 2-1 late night thriller over Meigs County.

“She (Kyla Gillespie) deserved that, she has struggled all year to be on the field offensively,” Cheatham said. “She makes good decisions and she has been the unluckiest hitter all season, hitting hard balls right at somebody. But that changed today, kudos for Kayla for getting it done.”

Summertown’s eighth-grade pitcher Kaley Campbell held Forrest hitless over the first three innings, while the Lady Eagles squandered a bases loaded, two-out scoring opportunity in the top of the first inning.

In the top of the fourth inning, Summertown broke the deadlock when they scored three runs on four hits and a passed ball.

Forrest catcher Carson Warner tags out Megan Dinwiddie at home plate in the fourth inning, stopping the potential game-tying run from scoring.

Megan Dinwiddie banged a one-out RBI double, Reily Brazier delivered a two-out run scoring single and Madison Dinwiddie trotted home from third base on a passed ball, putting the Lady Rockets in a 3-0 hole.

Campbell retired the first two Lady Rockets’ batters in the home half of the inning before Forrest rallied, beginning with a Carson Warner base hit.

Forrest coach Becky Cheatham congratulates a happy bunch of Lady Rockets after they beat Summertown 4-3 in eight innings.

Zoe Long came in to run for the Forrest catcher before Samantha King lashed a base to center field.

Jenna Blanton courtesy ran for King and Laura Mealer finally put Forrest on the board with an RBI single.

Campbell bobbled a ground ball back to the circle by Kennedy Gillespie to load the sacks and twin sister Kayla followed with a base hit to right that scored Jenna Blanton and Mealer also came across the plate when the right fielder misplayed the ball, tying the game at 3-3.

Forrest shortstop Laura Mealer guns down a Summertown baserunner at first base.

King settled in after Forrest tied the game and allowed just two more baserunners the rest of the game.

The Lady Rockets had a runner on second base and two outs in both the fifth and seventh innings, but could not score the go-ahead run and the game went to extra innings where King set down Summertown 1-2-3 in the top of the eighth.

Once again Warner started the game winning rally with a base hit and Long came in to run.

Campbell recorded an out on pop-up before pitching around Mealer for a base on balls.

Cheatham put some pressure on Summertown when she called a successful double steal that put Forrest runners on second and third.

Campbell walked Kennedy Gillespie on four pitches, sending Kayla Gillespie to the plate and she drilled a 2-2 pitch to center field, sending Long home with the winning run to cap off the comeback win and send the Lady Rockets ring chasing.

“When I went up there I just thought that I needed a base hit or a long fly ball to score the runner on third,” Kayla Gillespie said. “She (Campbell) threw it right down the middle, I had to drive it somewhere.”

“It feels great, everybody helped out, our coaches help us all the time and we prepare for this every day.”

King went the distance in the circle for the win, giving up two earned runs on seven hits, while striking out two and walking two Summertown batters.

Warner, Mealer, and Kayla Gillespie all had two hits apiece in the contest and Katlin Leverette, King, and Emma Stacey all had one base knock.

Summertown 000 300 00-3 7 2

Forrest 000 300 01-4 9 1

Summertown: Reily Brazier 2-for-4, Madison Dinwiddie 2-for-2, Kaley Campbell 1-for-4, Jenna Brazier 1-for-4, Megan Dinwiddie 1-for-4

2B: Reily Brazier, Megan Dinwiddie

RBI: Reily Brazier, Megan Dinwiddie

BB: Anisten Burleson, Hailey Jones

RS: Jenna Brazier, Madison Dinwiddie, Brooklyn Gabel

SAC: Madison Dinwiddie

ROE: Megan Dinwiddie

FC: Madison Konig 2, Gabel

SB: Madison Dinwiddie 2, Reily Brazier, Jenna Brazier,

LOB: 7

E: Campbell, Jones

LP: Kaley Campbell (7IP, 9H, 4R, 2ER, 4K, 3BB)

Forrest: Carson Warner 2-for-4, Laura Mealer 2-for-3, Kayla Gillespie 2-for-3, Katlin Leverette 1-for-4, Samantha King 1-for-4, Emma Stacey 1-for-4

2B: Leverette

RBI: Kayla Gillespie 2, Mealer

BB: Mealer, Kennedy Gillespie, Kayla Gillespie

RS: Zoe Long 2, Jenna Blanton, Mealer

ROE: Kennedy Gillespie

FC: Leverette, Anna Blanton

SB: Long 2, Mealer

CS: Anna Blanton

LOB: 5

E: Ally Blanton

WP: Samantha King (8IP, 7H, 3R, 2ER, 2K, 2BB)