Forrest falls by one run to Alabama champs
The Forrest Lady Rockets had a tough matchup right off the rip on Saturday morning at the Firehouse Subs Softball Classic against the reigning 7-A Alabama state champion Buckhorn at Bobby Brewer Park in Lawrenceburg.
Despite playing in the largest classification in Alabama and claiming a ninth-to-twelfth grade enrollment equal to the population of entire town of Chapel Hill, the Bucks were barely able to squeeze a win past the two-time Tennessee Class A state champion Lady Rockets by a 3-2 final in four innings.
"I'm upset about that game because our minds weren't focused and you cannot expect to win a game if you make errors and don't hit the ball," Forrest coach Becky Cheatham said. "That pitcher was hittable and we didn't get the job done. It boils down to that."
The Bucks scored three runs in the first two innings, but a pair of freshmen played instrumental roles in the Lady Rockets comeback bid.
Freshman hurler Lauren Gillespie pitched just over three solid innings for Forrest, throwing two shutout innings to end the contest and striking out two batters including throwing a game-high 14 first pitch strikes while freshman slugger Karley Daughrity knocked a two-run home run in the fourth inning to bring the Chapel Hill squad to within one run.
"I have to remember that not everything was negative," Cheatham said. "I'm disgusted because we didn't win and we were capable of winning."
"However, I saw improvement in the pitcher, she issued no walks and improvement in a very young hitter that I've been waiting on to hit," Cheatham continued. "She's been really tense so I hope that eased things up for her some and that will help us later."
The Lady Rockets also picked up good showings in the batter’s box from Jasmine Runk and Kaitlin Leverette, who each finished with two quality at-bats and Anna Blanton, who picked up one of Forrest's three hits.
The Bucks looked strong to start off, scoring two runs in the first inning and one in the second while the Lady Rockets gave Buckhorn opportunities by committing two of three total errors in the first two frames.
Forrest settled down and Gillespie shook off the early jitters on the mound to shut down the Bucks the rest of the game.
"I was very nervous going in because we knew how big they were and how good they were," the freshman pitcher explained. "But my team is pretty good too, so I knew they would have my back."
"Today we didn't honestly play our best, we had a couple of errors but it felt like for the most part we played pretty good against a strong team," Gillespie added. "This game gives me a little more confidence playing against some of the bigger teams we will face that won't be nearly as big as (Buckhorn)."
The third inning featured a stalemate with zero runs scored by either team before Daughrity came through with a huge fourth inning at-bat to give the Lady Rockets a bit of life.
Jasmine Runk drew her second walk of the contest before Daughrity sailed one over the fence to bring the deficit to one run.
"Well, I just relaxed and stayed back on the ball because she pitched a little slower than usual," Daughrity recalled. "I waited on (the ball) and it just happened."
That would be as close as the Lady Rockets would get after the next batter would go down to end the inning, but Gillespie continued to fool the Buck batters and the fourth inning would be the freshman's second straight inning of shutout ball to end the contest.
"We just need to work on our mental errors and really just not having any errors at all," Daughrity said. "Because one error messed things up for us a little bit early in the game, but other than that if we would have just hit the ball a little better we would have been good."
Forrest 000 2-2 3 3
Buckhorn 120 0-3 6 1
Forrest: Kennedy Gillespie 1-for-2, Karley Daughrity 1-for-2, Anna Blanton 1-for-2.
RS: Kennedy Gillespie, Karley Daughrity.
RBI: Daughrity 2.
BB: Jasmine Runk 2.
2B: Kennedy Gillespie.
HR: Karley Daughrity.
ROE: Kennedy Gillespie.
FC: Zoe Long, Karley Daughrity.
Team LOB: 2
E: Long, Jenna Blanton, Lauren Gillespie.
LP: Lauren Gillespie (3.1IP, 6H, 3R, 1ER, 2K, 0BB)