Meigs hands Forrest double whammy

Monday, May 29, 2017
The Forrest Lady Rockets get fired up before the first game versus Meigs County Friday in the Class A title game at the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association’s Spring Fling Championships.
Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca and Mike Inglsbee

Forrest needed to win one out of the two games in Friday’s championship final day in the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association’s Spring Fling Championships to claim the school’s third state title, but the defending champion Meigs County Lady Tigers were the ones who celebrated in the end as the swept the Lady Rockets 7-0 and 11-5 for back-to-back championships.

“We didn’t play our best the first game and I think that affected us mentally,” Forrest coach Becky Cheatham said. “But, I will give it to them, they were the best team both times.”

“They hit the ball and we didn’t, it’s as simple as that.”

Eighth-grade shortstop Laura Mealer had an outstanding first season with the Lady Rockets, leading the team in batting average (.509), doubles (18), runs scored (42), on base percentage (.547) and slugging percentage (.889).

It was the third time in 10 years that a team has come out of the loser’s bracket to win the Class A title with Forrest pulling it off over Trinity Christian Academy in 2007-2008 and Chattanooga Christian also battled out in 2011-2012 over Decatur County.

Meigs County junior hurler Ashley Rogers dominated Forrest in the first game, surrendering just three hits, while striking 13 and walking zero Forrest batters.

Forrest never got a baserunner past second base in the contest.

Katlin Leverette had a double for Forrest’s only extra base hit in the game and Samantha King and Carson Warner had one single apiece off Rogers.

King also suffered the loss, tossing all six innings in the circle.

The Lady Tigers sent an early message that they would not surrender their title without a fight as they scored two first inning runs on RBI singles by Lindsey Ward and Jade Meadows.

Meigs added another run in the bottom of the second inning on an RBI double by Aubrey Reed.

Rogers struck out the side in the third and fourth innings before the Lady Tigers scored their final four runs in the bottom of the fourth via a two-run single by Madison Crabtree and run-scoring base hits by Reed and Rogers.

Rogers set down Forrest in order in the fifth and sixth innings and a minor threat by the Lady Rockets in their last at bat was quickly extinguished by Rogers, sending the two squads to a final do-or-die game.

Sophomore Lauren Gillespie started in the circle for the Lady Rockets in the title game and tossed five innings in her first state tournament appearance.

Sophomore southpaw Lauren Gillespie got the nod in the circle for the Lady Rockets in the pressure packed title game and struck out the Meigs County leadoff batter in her first state tournament appearance.

After a base hit by Aubrey Reed, some shaky Forrest defense surrendered two unearned runs to put Forrest in an early 2-0 hole.

Carson Warner banged a two-out single off Rogers in the bottom of the inning and went to third base on an outfield error before being left stranded on an inning ending ground ball out.

Gillespie worked her way out of a two-on, one-out jam in the top of the second inning, but Rogers set down Forrest 1-2-3 in the home half of the frame.

Madison Crabtree bashed a leadoff homerun in the top of the third inning to make it 3-0 and that was the way the score remained until the bottom of the fourth when Forrest made a comeback.

King started the rally with a one out single and Long came on to run before Mealer reached on an error to put Forrest baserunners on first and second.

Ally Blanton executes a perfect squeeze bunt RBI that cut the lead in game two to 3-2 in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Jasmine Runk put down a perfect bunt to load the sacks and Forrest stayed with the small-ball attack when Ally Blanton executed a squeeze bunt to bring home Long.

Zoe Long, who led the Lady Rockets with 31 stolen bases this season, is fired up after safely sliding home for Forrest’s first run in the second title game.

Rogers proceeded to throw one to the backstop, allowing Mealer to score to make it a 3-2 ballgame, but the junior UT commit got out of the jam with a pop-up back to the circle and an inning ending whiff.

A Lindsey Ward one-out dinger in the top of the fifth inning made it 4-2 and Forrest wasted a Warner two-out double in the home half of the inning.

Meigs County broke the game open in the top of the sixth on an RBI single by Rogers that was followed by a three-run blast by Crabtree that made it 8-3 and ended Gillespie’s stint in the circle.

Eighth-grader Ashley Milligan relieved Gillespie and retired two straight Meigs County batters, including an inning ending strikeout.

Mealer doubled leading off the bottom of the inning and Runk beat out a hit.

A wild throw on the Runk hit sent Mealer to the plate to make it an 8-3 contest, but once again Rogers dug in and retired three straight to end the stanza.

The Lady Tigers scored three more runs off Milligan in the top of the seventh before King came to the circle and got three outs to send the game to final inning.

Leverette drilled a leadoff double and came around to score when Anna Blanton reached on an error, but that was the last run scored in the season for the Lady Rockets who finished the state runner-up campaign with a school record mark of 41-6.

Forrest’s lone 2016-2017 senior Samantha King drills a base hit in her final at bat as a Lady Rocket in the Class A title game Friday at Murfreesboro.

“I’m very proud of the fact that we set a record for number of wins in a season and Sam set a record for number of wins by a pitcher (38-4),” Cheatham said. “They could have laid down and quit, but instead they dug in and tried to stay in it, so I will give them credit for that.”

Forrest jumps up a classification next season and will compete in Class 2A in Region 6, District 12AA along with Marshall County, Community, Giles County, Murfreesboro Central Magnet School and Nolensville.

“We still have those kids here that are anxious to play and eager to be here,” Cheatham said. “Lauren Gillespie and Ashley Milligan did a great job and we can’t lay anything on our pitchers, it’s all on our hitters, we didn’t get the job done.”

“Sam is a big loss, but we still have Lauren, Ashley, Caroline Warner, Kayla Gillespie and Kaydee Todd who are pitchers, so we will be ok.”

Giles County has four state championships (one runner-up), Forrest two championships (four runner-ups) and Marshall County has won one title (one runner-up).

“We have undying support and who could ask for anything better,” Cheatham said. “I’m just so thankful that our community supports this team the way they do and keeps encouraging them. Without that behind us and having supportive parents and staff, this would not be happening.”

Class A State Championship: Game One

Forrest 000 000 0-0 3 2

Meigs County 210 400 X-7 11 1

Forrest: Katlin Leverette 1-for-3, Carson Warner 1-for-3, Samantha King 1-for-2

HBP: King

SB: Zoe Long

CS: Long

LOB: 3

E: Ally Blanton, Laura Mealer

LP: Samantha King (5IP, 11H, 7R, 3ER, 1K, 0BB), Ashley Milligan (1IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 0K, 0BB)

Meigs County: Aubrey Reed 3-for-4, Madison Crabtree 2-for-4, Arika Reed 2-for-3, Kassidy Kenny 1-for-3, Kaylie Moore 1-for-4, Lindsey Ward 1-for-3, Jade Meadows 1-for-3

2B: Reed

RBI: Crabtree 2, Aubrey Reed 2, Meadows, Ashley Rogers, Ward

RS: Arika Reed 2, Aubrey Reed 2, Moore, Crabtree, Kenny

LOB: 6

WP: Ashley Rogers (7IP, 3H, 0R, 0ER, 13K, 0BB)

Class A State Championship: Game Two

Meigs County 201 014 3-11 16 3

Forrest 000 201 2-5 11 3

Meigs County: Kaylie Moore 3-for-4, Aubrey Reed 2-for-5, Madison Crabtree 2-for-4, Lindsey Ward 2-for-3, Alyson Crowder 2-for-5, Kassidy Kenny 1-for-4, Arika Reed 2-for-5, Ashley Rogers 1-for-5, Jade Meadows 1-for-5

2B: Taylor Odum

HR: Crabtree 2, Ward

RBI: Crabtree 4, Ward 2, Odum, Aubrey Reed, Rogers

BB: Ward 2, Crabtree

RS: Aubrey Reed 3, Summer Skinner 2, Crabtree 2, Moore, Ward, Odum, Kenny

SAC: Moore

ROE: Rogers, Meadows, Kenny

FC: Aubrey Reed

SB: Kenny

LOB: 11

E: Crowder 2, Crabtree

WP: Ashley Rogers (7IPO, 11H, 5R, 3ER, 4K, 1BB)

Forrest: Carson Warner 2-for-4, Samantha King 2-for-4, Laura Mealer 2-for-4, Jasmine Runk 2-for-4, Katlin Leverette 1-for-4, Anna Blanton 1-for-4, Ally Blanton 1-for-3

2B: Warner, Leverette, Mealer

RBI: Ally Blanton

BB: Kayla Gillespie

RS: Mealer 2, Leverette, Anna Blanton, Zoe Long

FC: Leverette

SB: Ally Blanton

LOB: 7

E: King, Lauren Gillespie, Mealer

LP: Lauren Gillespie (5.1IP, 10H, 8R, 4ER, 4K, 1BB), Ashley Milligan (0.2IP, 3H, 3R, 3ER, 0K, 0BB), Samantha King (1IP, 2H, 0R, 0ER, 0K, 1BB)