Gillespie tosses gem in District 12-AA title game
Even realignment could not slow down Forrest’s yearly domination in district play as the Lady Rockets (28-2) capped off another perfect league record when they blanked Giles County 3-0 Thursday night in the District 12-AA title game at the Field of Dreams in Chapel Hill.
“I expected it to be a battle, they have gotten better since the last two games we have played and they stepped up when it was time,” Forrest coach Becky Cheatham said. “It was a good game for us and a good game for them, so that should help us both be better prepared going into the region tournament Monday.”
It was the third perfect district record in four years and 10th in the last 14 years for the two-time state champion Lady Rockets, who have a mind boggling 215-9-1 league record since 2002.
With the win, Forrest advanced to the Region 6-AA Tournament and host District 11-AA champion Creek Wood (34-14) at 6 p.m. tomorrow night in Chapel Hill.
Junior lefty Lauren Gillespie, who has only one loss on her record all season, seems to be getting stronger in the circle as the year goes on and was stout versus the Lady Bobcats, tossing a complete game six-hitter with four strikeouts and zero bases on balls.
“We went in thinking we were going to have a really tough competition, they were a really good team, but we just ended up hitting more and played like I feel, better defense,” Gillespie said. “We went in trying to throw low and high and change our range of pitches and for the most part we were successful.”
Giles County managed to get at least one baserunner on in every inning, but great pitching by Gillespie and a strong defense behind her proved to be too much for the Lady Bobcats, who only had four runners in scoring position in the contest.
“Lauren is peaking right here at the right time and I’m so proud of her performance tonight and I just can’t say enough good things about her,” Cheatham said. “And as a team, we all did well.”
Forrest also had six hits, but two of them were RBI base hits by Kayla Gillespie in the second inning and Carson Warner in the bottom of the third.
“We have been struggling a little bit hitting the ball on the ground or on a line and we hit it hard tonight, but it was right at somebody,” Cheatham said. “I felt like we did a little better tonight and we will work on it and be a little better Monday night.”
The Lady Rockets’ first score was typical Forrest small-ball as Laura Mealer led off with a base hit and went to second on a perfect sacrifice bunt by Jasmine Runk before Kayla Gillespie delivered a run-scoring single to left field.
Giles County had two-on with two outs in the top of the third inning, but Mealer scooped up a hot shot a shortstop and fired to first base for the inning ending out.
Forrest rallied with two outs in the home half of the inning as the hot-hitting Jenna Blanton stroked a line drive single to center field before Warner roped an RBI double down the left field line to make it 2-0.
Giles County did not score in their next two at bats and Forrest made it 3-0 in the bottom of the fifth inning when Jenna Blanton drilled a double to the fence in center field and Warner followed with a base on balls.
Mealer lashed a hot shot that the Giles County shortstop could not handle and Blanton scored from second to give her pitcher an insurance run.
McKenna Birdsong came up with a one out single for the Lady Bobcats in the top of the sixth, but a fly ball to Anna Blanton in right field and pop-up to Kennedy Gillespie at first base closed the inning.
Forrest left a runner on second base with one out in the bottom of the sixth and Brenna Huckaba led off the top of the seventh inning with a base hit for Giles County.
This is where Lauren Gillespie came up huge as the Chattanooga State Community College commit complete fooled the Lady Bobcats as two consecutive batters struck looking at nasty change-ups.
“That (change-up) started working a little more tonight than it has, so that was really good,” Gillespie said.
Gillespie intentionally walked Giles County slugger Faith Cross for the third time in the game before a fly ball to Jenna Blanton ended the contest.
Giles County (16-13-1) travels to Camden (24-10-2), who beat the Lady Red Hawks 4-1 in the District 11-AA title game Wednesday night.
Giles County 000 000 0-0 6 1
Forrest 002 010 X-3 6 1
Giles County: Brenna Huckaba 2-for-3, Hanna Hill 1-for-3, Faith Cross 1-for-1, Allie Toone 1-for-3, Makenna Birdsong 1-for-3.
IW: Cross 3.
SAC BUNT: Hill.
LP: Bianca Malone (6IP, 6H, 3R, 2ER, 1K, 2BB).
Forrest: Jenna Blanton 2-for-3, Carson Warner 1-for-2, Laura Mealer 1-for-3, Kennedy Gillespie 1-for-2, Kayla Gillespie 1-for-2.
RS: Jenna Blanton 2, Mealer.
BB: Carson Warner, Kayla Gillespie.
2B: Jenna Blanton, Carson Warner.
RBI: Carson Warner, Kayla Gillespie.
SAC BUNT: Jasmine Runk, Kayla Gillespie.
E: Kayla Gillespie.
WP: Lauren Gillespie (7IP, 6H 0R, 0ER, 4K, 0BB).