Leverette goes wild in Forrest’s opening round shutout
The Forrest Lady Rockets continued their postseason hot streak Tuesday night versus Gibbs in the quarterfinals of the 2019 Spring Fling XXVI Spring Sports Championships, run-ruling the 10-time state champion Lady Eagles 11-0.
Kaitlin Leverette had a career night for the two-time state champs, driving in seven runs as the lefty hitting left fielder crushed a pair of home runs, including a walk off grand slam in the bottom of the sixth inning.
“I feel great and we are confident we can come out in the next game and do the same thing and play for each other, play for our team, and keep the tradition going,” Leverette said. “I knew I had to walk up there with confidence and come up clutch for my team because we needed this win.”
Lauren Gillespie beat the heat in the circle with an efficient 75-pitch outing as the Chattanooga State Community College signee gave up five hits, struck out one, and walked none.
Forrest (34-5) takes on Jackson South Side (36-8) in a winner’s bracket contest tonight at 5:30 p.m. at the Starplex Complex in Murfreesboro.
It will be the first-ever meeting between the two schools.
Jackson South Side run-ruled Marion County 12-0.
Five out of the eight losses suffered by Jackson South Side have come at the hands of their District 14-AA foe Lexington (45-4), who squeezed past Sequatchie County 5-3 in the other side of the bracket.
In the second game of the top half of the 2A bracket, Creekwood (35-5-1) shutout Alcoa 8-0 in the nightcap.
Creekwood and Lexington square off before Forrest’s game tonight.
“Our mentality is taking it one game at a time, if you look at their (Gibbs) records and you look at their coaches, we knew they were a well-coached team and they knew how to win,” Forrest coach Shelby Stinnett said. “So we just have to take it one step at a time.”
“Lauren (Gillespie) came in lights out again and we had good defense and the bats behind it gave us a chance to get going, so we feel good about it.”
Shelby Blake led off Tuesday night’s game with a base hit for Gibbs and Megan Turner sacrificed her to second before Lauren Gillespie got out of the inning on a foul pop to Kennedy Gillespie at first and a grounder to Laura Mealer at second.
Forrest went down 1-2-3 in the home half of the first and Gillespie set down the Lady Eagles in order in the top of the second inning.
Forrest went small-ball in the bottom of the inning as Mealer beat out an infield single and Kennedy Gillespie walked.
Zoe Long laid down a perfect bunt that was fielded by the Gibbs catcher, who threw wildly to third and Mealer scored easily to make it 1-0.
Lauren Gillespie gave up two-out, back-to-back base hits in the top of the third, but once again the Forrest senior escaped as Jenna Blanton scooped up a ground ball at shortstop and gunned to first for out number three.
The Lady Rockets busted the game wide open in the home half of the stanza as they batted around and scored six runs to take a 7-0 lead.
Jenna Blanton got things going with a leadoff triple and Anna Blanton followed with a slap infield single to reach first safely.
Blanton stole second base and Leverette lit the fuse when she bashed a three-run shot over the center field fence, making it 4-0.
After a pop-up for the first out, Kennedy Gillespie reached on an error before Long and Ally Blanton came up with infield singles to load the sacks.
Kayla Gillespie spotted her pitcher two runs with a two-run double and Karley Daughrity spotted her one more with a sacrifice fly RBI.
Both pitchers turned in a 1-2-3 fourth inning and Gibbs threatened to score in the top of the fifth when they got two on with two outs, but Daughrity squashed the scoring threat when she made a nice play at third base for the inning-ending out.
The Lady Rockets failed to score in the home half of the fifth inning and in the top of the sixth, Mealer came up with the defensive play of the game.
With one down in the stanza, Turner hit a little snare in between second and first base that looked like it was going to fall.
Mealer dove head first into the dust and when it cleared, she had the ball in her glove for the third out.
The defensive play fired up the Forrest offensive engines once again as pinch-hitter Kaydee Todd singled to left to lead off the bottom of the sixth inning and Jenna Blanton followed with a bunt single.
Anna Blanton beat out a single in the 6-5 hole and Leverette put the cap on the win when she sent a shot in to the parking lot, clearing the bases for the game-winner.
“It was my first walk off and my first grand slam,” a smiling Leverette said. “She threw me two inside pitches and that is what I was sitting on.”
Gibbs 000 000 X-0 5 1
Forrest 016 004 X-11 12 0
Gibbs: Shelby Blake 3-for-3, Dacey Jenkins 2-for-2.
SAC: Megan Turner.
E: Kaleigh Caldwell.
LP: Rayna Pendleton (5IP, 12H, 11R, 9ER, 1K, 1BB).
Forrest: Kaitlin Leverette 3-for-4, Jenna Blanton 2-for-4, Anna Blanton 2-for-4, Laura Mealer 1-for-3, Zoe Long 1-for-3, Ally Blanton 1-for-3, Kayla Gillespie 1-for-3, Kaydee Todd 1-for-1.
BB: Kennedy Gillespie.
RS: Jenna Blanton 2, Anna Blanton 2, Leverette 2, Mealer, Kennedy Gillespie, Long, Todd, Sayrna Kurtz.
RBI: Leverette 7, Kayla Gillespie 2, Karley Daughrity.
2B: Leverette, Kayla Gillespie
3B: Jenna- Blanton.
HR: Leverette 2.
Grand Slam: Leverette.
SB: Anna Blanton.
WP: Lauren Gillespie (6IP, 5H, 0R, 0ER, 1K, 0BB).