Lady Rockets trounce Waverly, advance to Region 6-AA final
The Region 6-AA Tournament semifinal lasted just three innings as the host Forrest Lady Rockets trounced Waverly 15-0 Monday night at the Field of Dreams in Chapel Hill to advance to the region final at home versus Creekwood tonight.
“Coming off district we didn’t feel too good about it, so we really, really worked Sunday and today focusing on getting our sticks back going,” Forrest coach Shelby Stinnett said. “We know what we have and if they’ll just bring that every game, we are unstoppable.”
It will be redemption Wednesday for the Lady Rockets as the Lady Red Hawks (33-4-1), who beat Giles County 4-1 on Monday, eliminated Forrest (31-5) last season in the region semifinals at Chapel Hill.
The potent Lady Rockets’ offense banged out 13 hits, and scored nine runs in the first inning for the second game in a row as Waverly only managed one hit off of Chattanooga State Community College signee Lauren Gillespie.
“Lauren gets a little bit of nerves to her now and then, so we concentrated on getting her through the first two innings and getting her confident,” Stinnett said. “We worked on her throwing hard and focusing on her off speed and man, when she gets her off speed over her fast seems that much faster and keeps them off balance.”
Gillespie struck out the side in order in the top of the first inning before Forrest went on a blitzkrieg, sending 14 batters to the plate in the bottom of the first inning.
“Getting some strikeouts early really gave us some momentum,” Stinnett said. “Her really setting that tone early is big for us at the beginning of the game.”
Jenna Blanton had two hits in the frame and led off the barrage with a slap infield single and stole second.
“I’ve talked about it all year, one of our goals was to be the first team out of Forrest to have hundreds of stole bases and right now we are doing great and when our speed gets on, we are unstoppable,” Stinnett said. “They really set that tone and with Jenna getting on tonight, you could just see our team come alive, so it’s a big deal.”
Waverly starting pitcher Kinlee Daniel seemed like she was going to escape the first inning when she induced back-to-back fly outs to left field and intentionally walked Laura Mealer.
Senior Kennedy Gillespie came through with a huge two-out RBI single and Zoe Long fouled off several two-strike pitches before placing a perfect bunt to load the bases for Ally Blanton, who cleared the sacks when she roped a two-strike pitch off the center field fence, scoring all three runners to make it a 3-0 contest.
“Even when teams are playing real tight in our face they are just trusting that they can make them make a play and when they are doing that it makes it hard because they are that fast,” Stinnett said.
Kayla Gillespie followed with an RBI double to drive in courtesy runner Sayrna Kurtz, knocking Daniel out of the circle.
Karley Daughrity greeted Waverly relief pitcher Shelby Baker with a base on balls and Jenna Blanton came up for the second time in the inning and drilled an RBI single to left field.
Anna Blanton was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to make it 6-0 and Kaitlin Leverette followed with a two-run single.
Mealer drilled a shot off the center field fence to drive in the ninth run of the inning before Waverly finally got the third out on a shot to third base.
Laure Gillespie faced four batters in the bottom of the second inning, striking out three more and walking one.
The Lady Rockets added three more runs in the bottom of the second on a squeeze bunt RBI by Ally Blanton and a two-run error by Waverly.
Lauren Gillespie gave up her only hit of the game on a two-out double to Caroline Trull in the top of the third inning.
Mealer slammed a one-out solo home run in the bottom of the inning and Kennedy Gillespie followed with a base hit and Kurtz came on to run.
Long reached on an infield error and a pop-up in foul territory was caught by Baker at first base before Kayla Gillespie drilled the walk off two-run single to send the Lady Rockets to the region final and guarantee a sectional game on Friday.
“Those regions and sub-states is where you get to see that pressure, so I think it’s really good that we showed out tonight, so just knowing, pressure we can do it,” Stinnett said. “I think they are a little bit better under pressure to be honest.”
Creek Wood and Forrest have played five times since 2014 with the Lady Red Hawks holding a 3-2 edge, including a 6-5 win last season in an elimination game at Forrest and they met twice this season at the Raptor Classic in Brentwood with the two squads splitting the games.
“That is a little bit of a momentum game too from where we are leaving off tonight, we want to keep our momentum going,” Stinnett said. “We saw their pitching twice in a tournament this year, so we are feeling good about that coming in and seeing that good quality pitching and keeping our momentum going in to Friday is going to help us out.”
Waverly 000 XXX X-0 1 2
Forrest 906 XXX X-15 13 0
Waverly: Caroline Trull 1-for-2.
BB: Kinlee Daniel.
Team LOB: 2
E: Daniel, Savannah Scantlin.
LP: Kinlee Daniel (1.1IP, 8H, 9R, 7ER, 0K, 1BB).
Relief: Shelby Baker (1.1IP, 5H, 6R, 4ER, 1K, 1BB).
Forrest: Kayla Gillespie 3-for-3, Jenna Blanton 2-for-3, Laura Mealer 2-for-2, Kennedy Gillespie 2-for-3, Zoe Long 2-for-3, Kaitlin Leverette 1-for-3, Ally Blanton 1-for-3.
BB: Mealer, Karley Daughrity.
RS: Long 3, Sayrna Kurtz 3, Jenna Blanton 2, Mealer 2, Anna Blanton 1, Kennedy Gillespie 1, Daughrity 1, Kayla Gillespie 1, Addison Bunty 1.
2B: Kayla Gillespie 2, Ally Blanton.
RBI: Ally Blanton 4, Jenna Blanton 3, Kayla Gillespie 3, Leverette 2, Mealer 2, Gillespie.
ROE: Jenna Blanton, Long.
FC: Ally Blanton.
HBP: Anna Blanton.
SB: Jenna Blanton, Mealer.
Team LOB: 2
WP: Lauren Gillespie (3IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 6K, 1BB).