Forrest outlasts Tigerettes in nail biter

Wednesday, April 11, 2018
Kennedy Gillespie slams the game-winning hit in the bottom of the seventh inning that lifted Forrest to a 7-6 win over Lewisburg at Chapel Hill Thursday night.
Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

It was a historical night at the Field of Dreams in Chapel Hill Thursday as two-time Class A state champion Forrest (2008, 2015) entertained 2005 Class 2A state champ Marshall County in the first-ever district game between the intra-county rival squads.

The contest lived up to the hype as the Lady Rockets won the highly contested game 7-6 in the bottom of the seventh inning on a double by Kennedy Gillespie that was compounded by a Lewisburg error which allowed Laura Mealer to score the winning run from first base.

“I was confident when Mealer walked and I knew what Kennedy can do and she did what I asked her to do in hitting behind the runner and she got that pitch to do it with and Laura did a great job in running the bases and scoring.”

Both teams had nine hits and four errors apiece in the game, but also came up with a myriad of sparkling defensive plays.

“They have a great team with an outstanding pitcher and they hit the cover off the ball, so I have nothing but good things to say about them,” Forrest coach Becky Cheatham said. “I’m just so proud of our girls in just gritting it out and doing the best they could do.”

Leah Hollingsworth went 3-for-4 with two runs scored for the Tigerettes.

Leah Hollingsworth had three hits, Savannah Wooten and Tatum Garrett had two hits apiece and Claire Woods and Mackenzie Walls all came up with one safety apiece.

Forrest did not pitch to Marshall County slugger Sydne Solomon as they pitched/around walked her three times and intentionally walked her once.

Woods also went the distance in the circle for the Tigerettes, giving up just two earned runs with four strikeouts and one base on balls.

Ashley Milligan picked up the win in the circle for Forrest, coming on in relief of Lauren Gillespie with one out and the bases loaded in the top of the sixth inning.

“I debated on making that change there to bring her (Milligan) in with the bases loaded, but she held her own and did an outstanding job,” Cheatham said. “Lauren also did an outstanding job, but they finally caught up to her and I thought it was time for a different look, so between all of us, we got the job done.”

Kennedy Gillespie had three hits for Forrest, Kaitlin Leverette and Jenna Blanton had a pair of hits and Carson Warner, Jasmine Runk, and Anna Blanton all had one hit each.

Savannah Wooten takes off for first base after bunting a perfect base hit in the first inning.

The Tigerettes threatened right off the bat when Solomon was pitched around for a walk before Hollingsworth and Wooten came up with back-to-back infield singles to load the sacks.

Woods nailed a shot to right field that was caught on a great play by Zoe Long, who threw to Mealer on the cutoff before nailing Solomon at home on a wild double play.

After Hannah Sheppard walked to re-load the bases, Lauren Gillespie whiffed the next Lewisburg batter to end the threat.

Kaitlin Leverette went 2-for-2 with two doubles, two runs scored and an RBI.

Forrest responded with two runs in the home half of the inning as Leverette led off with a double to left field and went to third on a Jenna Blanton base hit.

Blanton stole second base before Carson Warner knocked in Leverette on a fielder’s choice RBI and Blanton followed her home on a Lewisburg error.

The Tigerettes came back in the top of the third inning, beginning with Wooten and Woods back-to-back leadoff hits.

After Gillespie struck out the next two hitters, Garett came up with an infield single to load the sacks before Wooten scored on an RBI base on balls to Lexi Cashion.

The damage could have been much worse, but Mealer skied for an inning ending line drive that would have scored at least one run if she didn’t snag it.

Forrest made it 3-1 on a Kennedy Gillespie RBI single in the bottom of the inning before the Tigerettes tied it up at 3-3 in the top of the fourth inning on an RBI fielder’s choice by Abby McGehee and another run scored on a Forrest error.

Forrest answered again as Anna Blanton led off the bottom of the fourth inning with an infield single and Long reached on a Marshall County error.

Leverette doubled home Anna Blanton before Jenna Blanton and Warner knocked in one run apiece on back-to-back fielder’s choice ground balls to the right side, making it 6-3.

There was no scoring in the fifth inning, but in the top of the sixth the Tigerettes scored three runs to tie the game at 6-6 with the big blow coming off the bat of pinch hitter Mackenzie Walls, who drilled the game-tying two-run double off of Milligan.

Ashley Milligan picked up the win in the circle for the Lady Rockets after she came on in relief in the sixth inning.

Walls was the first batter Milligan faced and she came back with back-to-back whiffs to end the inning.

“That was definitely hard because it was bases loaded and they got the big hit before those two strike outs kept us tied,” Milligan said. “It was definitely big because it was an intra-county rivalry.”

“Their freshman pitcher Claire Woods is pretty great too, so it’s good to see her working and all of us working.”

Claire Woods pitched a complete game versus the Lady Rockets, giving up just two earned runs, while striking out four and walking one Forrest batter.

Forrest was set down 1-2-3 by Woods in the home half of the inning and Milligan got out of a two-on, one-out jam in the top of the seventh by inducing two straight pop-ups to Runk at second base.

Mealer walked to lead off the bottom of the seventh before Kennedy Gillespie hammered a first pitch strike down in the right field corner that plated Mealer with the game winning run after the cutoff throw got away from the Lewisburg defense.

“The last thing I hear was Emma (Stacey) telling me just do my job and I knew she was throwing first pitch strikes and when I saw it I took it that way,” Gillespie said. “I was already jumping when I hit second base and saw Laura score.”

“We have been practicing for hours just knowing they were going to be our competition and it was going to be a rivalry when we got out there, so we knew whoever wanted it more was going to win.”

Forrest (15-1) beat Giles County on Monday and travelled to Murfreesboro Central Magnet on Tuesday before meeting the Tigerettes for a rematch at Lewisburg on Friday.

Marshall County (9-5) beat Giles County on Tuesday and plays Murfreesboro Central Magnet on Thursday before hosting the Lady Rockets with first pitch scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Friday.

Marshall County 001 203 0-6 9 4

Forrest 201 300 1-7 9 4

Marshall County: Leah Hollingsworth 3-for-4, Savannah Wooten 2-for-5, Tatum Garrett 2-for-3, Claire Woods 1-for-5, Mackenzie Walls 1-for-1.

RS: Hollingsworth 2, McKinley Richardson, Solomon, Wooten.

BB: Solomon 4, Abby McGehee 2, Lexi Cashion.

IW: Solomon.

2B: Walls.

RBI: Walls 2, McGehee, Cashion.

ROE: Wooten, Woods, Garrett.

FC: McGehee.

HBP: Hollingsworth.

SB: Hollingsworth.

Team LOB: 13


E: Wooten 2, Hollingsworth, Cashion.

LP: Claire Woods (6IP, 9H, 7R, 2ER, 4K, 2BB).

Forrest: Kennedy Gillespie 3-for-4, Kaitlin Leverette 2-for-4, Jenna Blanton 1-for-4, Carson Warner 1-for-4, Jasmine Runk 1-for-3, Anna Blanton 1-for-2.

RS: Leverette 2, Jenna Blanton, Laura Mealer, Anna Blanton, Zoe Long, Karley Daughrity.

BB: Mealer 2.

2B: Leverette 2, Kennedy Gillespie, Warner.

RBI: Warner 2, Kennedy Gillespie, Leverette, Jenna Blanton.

ROE: Kennedy Gillespie 2, Zoe Long 2.

FC: Warner.

HBP: Ally Blanton.

SB: Long, Jenna Blanton.

Team LOB: 6


E: Kennedy Gillespie, Long, Mealer, Warner.

DP: Ally Blanton, Long, Mealer.

WP: Ashley Milligan (1.2IP, 2H, 0R, 0ER, 3K, 0BB), Lauren Gillespie (5.1IP, 7H, 6R, 2ER, 8K, 6BB).