Lady Rockets get revenge on Creek Wood
Revenge was sweet Wednesday night at the Field of Dreams in Chapel Hill as Forrest got payback on a Creek Wood Lady Red Hawks’ squad that knocked the Lady Rockets out of the postseason last year in a disappointing 6-5 home loss in the region tournament semifinals.
“I just know last year, not going home with a good feeling was something they remembered,” Forrest coach Shelby Stinnett said. “We played them a lot in tournaments this year, so we knew a little bit of what they have and we felt pretty prepared coming in to this and what we were looking for.”
Senior Lauren Gillespie, who picked up the loss in the circle in last year’s setback, was in prime form on Wednesday as the Chattanooga State Community College signee tossed a masterful three-hit, complete game shutout, leading the Lady Rockets to a 6-0 win in the Region 6-AA Tournament title tilt.
Gillespie struck out eight and walked zero Creek Wood batters for a Forrest squad that was in the midst of a three-year region tournament title dry spell, not having won the crown since the 2015 state championship season.
“This feels amazing, we knew they were a good hitting team and we knew what they were capable of, so we came in as ready as possible,” Gillespie said. “I knew my team was coming out to hit and field like they always do behind me and they were just themselves, we are a team.”
The reward was a big one as Forrest (32-5) gets to host a Class 2A state sectional contest at Chapel Hill Friday night at 6 p.m. versus Westmoreland (25-18), who fell 5-4 at Greenbrier in the Region 5-AA Tournament title game.
“We don’t know much about Westmoreland going in to it, so we will just play our game and hopefully we will be the better team,” Stinnett said. “Right now the way we are playing we are pretty confident, you know what they can bring if they show up, our pitching stays the way it is, and if our hitting is on all cylinders, so I have confidence and believe they will bring their best game.”
The winner gets a berth in the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association’s Spring Fling XXVI Spring Sports Championships, beginning on Tuesday.
Forrest has made 16 state tournament appearances with four runner-up finishes and captured state titles in 2008 and 2015, while Westmoreland has been to the Spring Fling three times, but they have been fruitful with one state title (1985) and two runner-ups (1981, 1982).
The Lady Rockets have won 11 consecutive state sectional games they have played in and are 13-1 in those pressure packed contests since 2002 with their only loss coming in 2004 when they fell 5-1 to FRA.
Lauren Gillespie was dominant in the circle from the start of Wednesday’s game, retiring the Lady Red Hawks in order in the first two innings, including striking out the side in the top of the second.
Forrest threatened in the bottom of the first inning, but left two runners on base with two outs.
Chapel Hill broke through with an unearned run off Creek Wood starting pitcher Lennon Spicer in the home half of the second inning.
Zoe Long led off with a bunt single and stole second before two fly outs.
Karley Daughrity followed with a base on balls and Long took off for third before coming home on an errant throw by the Creek Wood catcher.
Gillespie gave up her first hit of the game on a double to Madison Woodard with one out in the top of the third, but she was left standing there after consecutive outs ended the threat.
Forrest distanced themselves from the visitors in the bottom of the inning as Kaitlin Leverette and Laura Mealer crunched back-to-back singles leading off the frame.
After a strikeout, Long came up with an infield single after fouling off a bevy of two-strike pitches.
Creek Wood then handed Forrest two runs on consecutive infield errors to make it 3-0 and a Daughrity sacrifice fly RBI gave the hometown girls a 4-0 lead.
“Shout out to the girls for really preparing this week and knowing what we were attacking up at the plate, they were really going up there with a plan,” Stinnett said.
Creek Wood got back-to-back base hits to start the top of the fourth before Gillespie put the hammer down, striking out the next three Lady Red Hawk batters in a row.
“Lauren was lights out, she threw awesome with high energy and her defense was behind her,” Stinnett said. “And I want to shout out to the girls in the dugout, I mean they are in here and keeping the team rallied and keeping us going and that will be a big energy swing as we move on.”
Forrest left two on in the bottom of the inning and Creek Wood put together another scoring opportunity in the top of the sixth inning.
Madeline Kilpatrick reached on a leadoff error by Daughrity at third base and Gillespie beaned Jase Jackson with a pitch.
Two pitches later, Daughrity got some serious redemption when she came up with the defensive play of the game, scooping up a hard ground ball and stepping on the third base bag before firing to Laura Mealer at second to cap off a pretty 5-4 double bubble.
“I knew something big was going to happen and Karley did it,” Gillespie said. “We normally don’t have too many tough innings on defense, so I knew we were going to get out of that.”
From there, Creek Wood had no more life left in them.
Forrest added a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth on a base on balls RBI by Long and a sacrifice fly RBI by Ally Blanton.
Gillespie slammed the door shut in the top of the seventh, setting Creek Wood down 1-2-3 to secure the region title.
Creek Wood 000 000 0-0 3 2
Forrest 013 002 X-6 10 3
Creek Wood: Madeline Kilpatrick 1-for-3, Jase Jackson 1-for-2, Madison Woodard 1-for-3.
ROE: Kilpatrick, Woodard.
FC: Lennon Spicer, Samantha England.
Team LOB: 5
E: Jackson, Maddy Pullum.
DP: Jackson, Lillie Boydston.
LP: Lennon Spicer (6IP, 10H, 6R, 4ER, 2K, 5BB).
Forrest: Laura Mealer 3-for-3, Kaitlin Leverette 2-for-3, Zoe Long 2-for-3, Jenna Blanton 1-for-3, Ally Blanton 1-for-3, Kayla Gillespie 1-for-4.
BB: Jenna Blanton, Leverette, Mealer, Long, Karley Daughrity.
RS: Mealer 2, Long 2, Leverette, Sayrna Kurtz.
RBI: Ally Blanton 2, Daughrity, Kayla Gillespie, Long.
SF: Ally Blanton, Daughrity.
ROE: Ally Blanton.
FC: Kayla Gillespie.
HBP: Kiersten Blalock.
SB: Long 2.
Team LOB: 11
E: Daughrity, Kennedy Gillespie, Long.
DP: Daughrity, Mealer.
WP: Lauren Gillespie (7IP, 3H, 0R, 0ER, 8K, 0BB).