Lady Rockets hard as steel

Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Anna Blanton drives a triple deep to the fence to bring home the second run of the game during the 9-8 win over Steeleville.
Tribune photos by Mike Inglsbee

The Lady Rockets faced its stiffest competition during the entire Southern Warrior Classic Tournament on Saturday afternoon with a matchup against Steeleville, Illinois in less than ideal weather conditions.

Forrest jumped out to a 5-0 advantage after the top of the fourth inning before Steeleville knocked two home runs, including a grand slam in the bottom half of the inning to tie the game and eventually take the lead.

But like the Lady Rockets usually do in tough contests, Chapel Hill managed to put together two great final innings to wrestle away the lead and walk away with a hard fought 9-8 win.

"That was good for us in more ways than I can tell you," Forrest coach Becky Cheatham said. "We need to play under pressure. So I'm very pleased with their effort and not giving up and being able to put the hits together to score the winning runs."

"It was under pressure and we've been needing that, so I saw improvement and they were a very good team," Cheatham added. "So, happy to get that win."

Ashley Milligan went the distance for the Lady Rockets with six inning performance, including four strikeouts and 17 first-pitch strikes.

The sophomore pitcher gave up just one hit through the first three innings until the Warriors put up five in the fourth.

Carson Warner continued her hot hitting with two runs batted in, Kaitlyn Leverette added three hits and two runs batted in, while Zoe Long also added two hits.

"She kind of just threw it in the right spots that slappers like them," Long explained. "We like them middle out and about at the waste and that's where she threw them."

"We hit the ball when she gave it to us and we laid off the pitches we didn't need to hit and we played good defense the entire game," Long added.

Forrest struck early when Leverette led off the game with a bunt single and stole first and second base before Warner stepped up and drove an RBI single up the middle for a 1-0 lead.

Zoe Long drives one of her two hits of the game up the middle to push the Forrest lead to 3-0 in the second inning.

The Lady Rockets looked ready to blow the game wide open in the third inning as Anna Blanton started off with a triple and Long picked up the RBI with a single up the middle.

Leverette reached on a third base error that brought home Long for the 3-0 edge before Jenna Blanton dropped a RBI double for a 4-0 lead, but was caught trying to make it to third.

The Rockets clung to a 5-0 lead before Anna Beth Batson led off the fourth inning with a solo home run.

After Milligan gave up a single, a walk, and hit a batter to load the bases, Julia Niepurt stepped up and crushed the ball over the center field fence to tie the game at 5.

Forrest immediately reclaimed the momentum with Warner opening up the fifth inning with a single, followed by walks to Laura Ann Mealer and Kennedy Gillespie before Leverette brought home two with a double to the center field fence.

The Lady Rockets were unable to capitalize on two runners in scoring position and no outs and ended the inning with a 7-5 lead.

Ally Blanton catches a runner stealing in the second game of the day against Steeleville, Illinois.

The game see-sawed back and forth with Steeleville scoring three runs in the bottom of the inning to reclaim the lead at 8-7 before Forrest tied the game on a Warner single up the middle to score Leverette.

Caroline Warner scored the winning run by stealing third base and then home after the ball sailed over the third baseman's head.

It's different playing in conditions like this," Kayla Gillespie admitted. "We don't always play through games like this but they're gonna try and get the tournament in. But I'm glad we finished it out because games like this can only help us in the long run."

Forrest 130 122-9 12 1

Steeleville 000 530-8 9 1

Forrest: Kaitlin Leverette 3-for-3, Carson Warner 2-for-4, Laura Mealer 2-for-3, Zoe Long 2-for-3, Jenna Blanton 1-for-4, Kayla Gillespie 1-for-3, Anna Blanton 1-for-2.

RS: Leverette 3, Long 2, Caroline Warner, Mealer, Kennedy Gillespie, Anna Blanton.

BB: Leverette, Mealer, Kennedy Gillespie, Ally Blanton.

2B: Leverette 2, Kayla Gillespie, Jenna Blanton.

3B: Anna Blanton.

RBI: Leverette 2, Carson Warner 2, Ally Blanton, Kayla Gillespie, Long.

ROE: Ally Blanton.

HBP: Anna Blanton.

SB: Leverette 2, Ally Blanton, Long, Mealer.

CS: Ally Blanton.

Team LOB: 6

Fielding

E: Ally Blanton.

WP: Ashley Milligan (6IP, 9H, 8R, 6ER, 4K, 3BB).