Lady Rockets open season with Firehouse Subs sweep
Former Forrest great Shelby Stinnett opened up her head coaching career with the Lady Rockets in style as the two-time state champions posted a perfect 4-0 record Friday and Saturday at the Firehouse Subs Tournament at Bobby Brewer Park in Lawrenceburg.
“It feels pretty good, I thought the girls came out here with good energy and we told pitching that if we can hold teams down to two runs or less, we will give you five runs a game,” Stinnett said. “I like having a tournament like this to open the season because you get to play different teams and you get to see what you got. You also get to see different pitching styles and it’s not people you see every day, so you just get to come out and play ball.”
Stinnett notched her first win in Friday afternoon’s opener via a 7-0 win over Loretto as the Lady Rockets scored four runs in the second inning and three more in the fourth in the timed, five-inning contest.
Lauren Gillespie pitched four innings of one-hit ball in the circle as the senior southpaw and Chattanooga State Community College signee struck out six and walked zero Loretto batters to pick up the first of her four wins over the weekend.
“We are down some pitching right now, so Laure came on and played lights out, she was really that workhorse,” Stinnett said. “She is dynamite and she’s hitting her spots and when she hits her spots we have an outstanding defense behind her that can make the plays.”
Laura Mealer, who went 2-for-3 at the plate, provided the only run Gillespie needed as she led off the bottom of the second inning with an inside the park home run.
Ally Blanton made it 3-0 with a two-run double and Jenna Blanton knocked her sister Ally home with a fielder’s choice RBI.
Forrest got some help in the bottom of the fourth inning as the Lady Mustangs made a couple of errors that led to three runs with the big blows coming on back-to-back doubles by Kaitlin Leverette and Mealer.
Caroline Warner came to the circle in the last inning and gave up a pair of hits to start the frame before a strikeout, a fly ball to Anna Blanton in center field, and a ground ball to Karley Daughrity at third base secured the season-opening win.
Forrest took on Collinwood in game two and played small ball to start the contest as Jenna Blanton laid down a perfect bunt for a base hit, stole second, and went to third on a fielder’s choice by Anna Blanton before scoring on a Leverette fielder’s choice RBI.
Gillespie gave up a one-out double in the bottom of the inning, but set down the next two Lady Trojan batters and then watched as her teammates handed her eight runs in the top of the second inning.
The Lady Rockets banged out seven hits in the frame as Ally Blanton, Jenna Blanton, Mealer, and Daughrity all had RBI hits, while Leverette drilled a bases loaded triple to drive in three runs.
Gillespie set down Collinwood 1-2-3 in the bottom of the second to finish her stint in the circle and in the top of the third, Forrest added four runs with the reserves doing all the damage.
Kaydee Todd roped a two-run double while Alli Morton and Jacey Burgett had RBI hits in the stanza.
“I preach to them all the time, no matter what your role is, later on in the season and you coming off the bench when someone is struggling and you get a big hit could potentially gets us in to later play, win us that district, that sub-state, or even that championship,” Stinnett said. “So keeping those girls hungry in that position is a big deal as well, because that is a very important role.”
Collinwood managed three runs off Warner in the bottom of the inning for the 12-3 final.
Forrest smoked Wayne County in Saturday’s opener, banging out 11 hits versus the Lady Wildcats as Jenna Blanton (2RS), Anna Blanton (2RS), Leverette (3 RBIs) and Long (RBI) all had two hits apiece in the contest.
Mealer (2 RBIs), Kennedy Gillespie (RBI), and Daughrity (RBI) all had one base knock for Forrest, who scored three runs in the first and second innings and two more in the fourth to take the 8-0 win.
Lauren Gillespie gave up one hit and struck out four while walking none to pick up her third straight win in the circle.
The final game of the tournament was a blockbuster as the Lady Rockets took on the Class A defending state champion Summertown Lady Eagles in a tough, early season test for Stinnett’s squad.
It turned out to be a beauty with the Lady Rockets taking a thrilling 5-4 win in a tiebreaker.
“We knew going in that they would be one of our toughest competitors we would play all year,” Stinnett said. “The biggest things coming in to this game was our pitchers giving us a chance to win, play clean defense and let’s get some timely hits.”
“I think overall they did that and they never gave up and they kept fighting.”
After a scoreless first inning, Forrest struck first as Mealer led off the frame with a double to right/center and stole second base.
Summertown starting pitcher Claire Woods struck out the next two Forrest batters before Long delivered a clutch two-out double to make it 1-0 and Long came around to score when Ally Blanton reached on an errant throw by the Lady Eagles’ third baseman.
Woods got one run back when she bashed a leadoff home run in the bottom of the second and it could have been a lot worse as Lauren Gillespie worked her way out of a bases loaded, two-out jam.
Woods set down Forrest 1-2-3 in the top of the third inning and the Lady Rockets muffed a pair of grounders to start the bottom half of the frame.
Three consecutive singles gave Summertown a 3-2 lead before Gillespie reared back and whiffed the next three Lady Eagles in order to end the inning.
Mealer led off the fourth inning with a base hit and was sacrificed to second by Kennedy Gillespie before Daughrity drilled the game-tying single to left field.
Lauren Gillespie stayed strong in the home half of the inning as Summertown had runners on first and second with two outs when Jenna Blanton fielded a grounder at second base and fired to Katelyn Helmick at first for the inning ending putout.
The game went to the international tie-breaker in the top of the fifth and Ally Blanton took the second base bag for Forrest.
Helmick laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt, moving Ally Blanton to third base before Jenna Blanton was hit by a pitch.
Blanton swiped second base and a groundout to third base for the second out could not move the runners.
Leverette stepped up to the plate and came through in the clutch, driving a shot in to the right/center field gap to score both runners and make it a 5-4 contest.
Woods took second base for Summertown in the bottom of the inning and could not move up on a grounder back to the circle for the first out, but Woods did come home to score to make it 5-4 when Brooklyn Gabel singled to right field.
Gillespie induced a grounder to second for out number two and struck out the next Summertown batter to end the game, giving the Lady Rockets a slick 4-0 mark to start the season.
“Anytime you come in and beat a quality team like that it feels good and gives you something to build and grow off of, but with that we can’t be satisfied and we have to keep getting better,” Stinnett said.
The Lady Rockets will continue to be road warriors as they travel to Cornersville tonight and open up District 12-AA play at Giles County tomorrow before a big weekend at the 2019 Southern Warrior Classic where they will take on three Alabama schools in succession.
Forrest opens the tournament Friday versus Wilson High School at 4 p.m. and takes on West Limestone at 6 p.m.
The Lady Rockets play Plainview High School on Saturday at 2 p.m. and play their only Tennessee opponent in a 6 p.m. matchup versus Chattanooga Christian High School.
Forrest plays all four games at Barfield High School in Murfreesboro.
Firehouse Subs Tournament
Bobby Brewer Park
Friday, March 15
Loretto 000 00X X-0 3 3
Forrest 040 30X X-7 7 0
Loretto: Chelsey Adams 1-for-2, Darby Traglia 1-for-2, Madelinn Tidwell 1-for-2.
Team LOB: 3
E: Kayla Grey, Bailey Brown, Tidwell.
Forrest: Laura Mealer 2-for-3, Jenna Blanton 1-for-2, Kaitlin Leverette 1-for-2, Karley Daughrity 1-for-3, Zoe Long 1-for-1, Ally Blanton 1-for-2.
BB: Leverette, Long, Caroline Warner.
RS: Mealer 2, Jenna Blanton, Leverette, Daughrity, Long, Saryna Kurtz.
2B: Daughrity, Leverette, Mealer.
RBI: Ally Blanton 2, Mealer 2, Jenna Blanton.
SAC: Jenna Blanton.
ROE: Daughrity, Kennedy Gillespie.
SB: Daughrity, Kurtz, Long, Warner.
Team LOB: 5
WP: Lauren Gillespie (4IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 6K, 0BB), Carline Warner (1IP, 2H, 0R, 0ER, 1K, 0BB).
Forrest 174 XXX X-12 15 0
Collinwood 003 XXX X-3 3 2
Forrest: Jenna Blanton 2-for-2, Zoe Long 2-for-2, Ally Blanton 2-for-3, Kaydee Todd 1-for-1, Anna Blanton 1-for-1, Alli Morton 1-for-1, Jacey Burgett 1-for-1, Laura Mealer 1-for-3, Kennedy Gillespie 1-for-2, Kiersten Blalock 1-for-1, Karley Daughrity 1-for-2.
BB: Katelyn Helmick.
RS: Jenna Blanton 2, Anna Blanton 2, Saryna Kurtz 2, Helmick 2, Todd, Leverette, Gillespie, Long.
2B: Ally Blanton, Daughrity, Gillespie, Mealer, Morton, Todd.
RBI: Katlin Leverette 4, Kaydee Todd 2, Ally Blanton, Jenna Blanton, Burgett, Daughrity, Mealer, Morton. SAC: Anna Blanton.
FC: Ally Blanton, Kurtz, Riley Ward.
SB: Zoe Long 2, Anna Blanton, Jenna Blanton.
Team LOB: 5
WP: Lauren Gillespie (2IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 1K, 0BB), Caroline Warner (1IP, 2H, 3R, 2ER, 2K, 1BB).
Collinwood: Madison Staggs 1-for-2, Braylee Daniel 1-for-2, Gabriel Alvarado 1-for-1.
BB: Rosalinda Alvarado.
RS: Gabriel Alvarado, Rosalinda Alvarado, Caroline Daniel.
2B: Braylee Daniel, Staggs, Rosalinda Alvarado.
RBI: Braylee Daniel.
Team LOB: 2
E: Braylee Daniel.
LP: Gabriel Alvarado.
Saturday, March 16
Wayne County 000 00X X-0 2 2
Forrest 330 2XX X-8 11 2
Forrest: Jenna Blanton 2-for-3, Anna Blanton 2-for-3, Kaitlin Leverette 2-for-2, Zoe Long 2-for-3, Laura Mealer 1-for-3, Kennedy Gillespie 1-for-2, Karley Daughrity 1-for-3.
RS: Jenna Blanton 2, Anna Blanton 2, Leverette, Kaydee Todd, Caroline Warner.
2B: Daughrity, Leverette.
RBI: Leverette 3, Mealer 2, Daughrity, Gillespie, Long.
ROE: Todd, Warner.
HBP: Ally Blanton.
SB: Anna Blanton, Jenna Blanton, Sayrna Kurtz, Leverette, Long, Mealer.
Team LOB: 6
E: Ally Blanton, Mealer.
WP: Lauren Gillespie (4IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 4K, 0BB), Caroline Warner (0.1IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 0K, 0BB).
Forrest 020 12X X-5 5 2
Summertown 012 01X X-4 6 1
Forrest: Laura Mealer 2-for-3, Kaitlin Leverette 1-for-3, Karley Daughrity 1-for-2, Zoe Long 1-for-2.
RS: Mealer 2, Jenna Blanton, Zoe Long, Ally Blanton.
2B: Leverette, Long, Mealer.
RBI: Leverette 2, Long, Daughrity.
SAC: Kennedy Gillespie, Katelyn Helmick.
ROE: Ally Blanton.
HBP: Jenna Blanton.
SB: Jenna Blanton, Mealer.
Team LOB: 3
E: Jenna Blanton, Helmick.
WP: Lauren Gillespie (5IP, 6H, 3R, 1ER, 6K, 2BB).
Summertown: Claire Woods 3-for-3, Jenna Brazier 1-for-2, Caiti Gallaher 1-for-3, Brooklyn Gabel 1-for-2.
BB: Brazier, Gabel.
RS: Hailey Jones, Aniston Burleson, Woods, Brazier.
RBI: Woods, Brazier, Gallaher, Gabel.
ROE: Kaley Campbell, Jones.
HBP: Campbell, Lucy Ballinger.
Team LOB: 9
LP: Kaley Campbell (2IP, 3H, 2R, 2ER, 1K, 0BB).
Starter: Claire Woods (3IP, 2H, 2R, 1ER, 3K, 0BB).