Lady Rocket softball highlights ’22

By Chris Siers ~
Posted 12/29/22

Every season, there are plenty of top highlights from the county that make the headlines. In 2022, there were plenty of highs and lows from across Marshall County. Here are the top local sports …

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Lady Rocket softball highlights ’22


Every season, there are plenty of top highlights from the county that make the headlines.
In 2022, there were plenty of highs and lows from across Marshall County. Here are the top local sports stories from 2022.

No. 4 Tigerette softball catches fire at season’s end
Part of finding postseason success is catching lightning in a bottle and riding the momentum as far as it can take you.
That’s exactly what the Marshall County Tigerette softball team did this past spring.
Relying on a steady roster of pitching, the Tigerettes upset Lawrence County in the District 8-AAA tournament and made a strong push to the region semifinals before seeing their season come to a close at White County.
The Tigerettes entered the district tournament as the No. 3 seed, riding a wave of momentum by winning 12 of their previous 13 games.
In an elimination rematch against the Lady Wildcats, the Tigerettes got a steady game from starting pitcher Taylor Pickle and upset Lawrence County in a second-straight meeting to not only advance to the 8-AAA title game, but also to qualify for the Region 4-AAA tournament as well.
Pickle did give up seven runs on 11 hits, but pitched a scoreless final two innings.
At the plate, Ellie Luce, Jessa Lancaster, Demiyah Blackman and Kaniyah Taylor all clubbed out two hits to help secure the Tigerettes’ place in the district tournament.
After upsetting No. 2 seeded Lawerence County, Marshall County fell in the district title game, but still continued its season in the region tournament.
In the semifinal round against the Warriorettes, it was Haylee Hobby being the steady arm from the pitcher’s circle for the Tigerettes, Marshall County eventually ran into some tough pitching the explosive offense just couldn’t solve in the Region 4-AAA semifinals at White County.
Hobby, along with Warriorette ace Addison Abell, both pitched a dandy of a pitcher’s duel, with White County able to string together just a few more hits with runners in scoring position to advance in the 2022 postseason.
Marshall County hammered out just four hits, singles by Mallory Woodward, Taylor and Blackman, while Lancaster clubbed a double.
“We have definitely made strides in the right direction. We will continue to build around the positive leadership we have from our returning players and work hard to show that Marshall County softball will continue to be a force to be reckoned with,” Tigerette coach Amy Bonner said.
Marshall County finished with an 18-8 overall record in 2022.

*Original reporting by Chris Siers

No. 3 No-quit Forrest Rockets reach state tourney
If one thing can sum up the 2022 Forrest Rocket baseball team, it’s the fact they were never out of any game until the final out was recorded.
The Rockets had plenty of familiar opponents, facing the Community Vikings six times, sweeping the Purple and Gold in all six meetings, including wins in the District 7-AA and Region 4-AA tournament championship games.
After defeating the Vikings 12-4 in the Region 4-AA championship, Forrest welcomed York Institute and Missouri commit Nicolas Smith on the mound.
Facing Forrest’s Riley Durbin, the game immediately fell into a classic pitcher’s duel.
Smith homered in the top of the first inning on a softly hit ball that carried over the left field fence with a strong gust of wind.
From there, fans were delighted to four-straight innings of scoreless, high-quality pitching from both squads.
But the game spun heavily in favor of York in the sixth and seventh innings.
With their backs against the wall and trailing 9-1 entering the bottom of the seventh inning, Forrest found itself in a nearly impossible situation.
The thing about that squad, they were never out of a game until the final out.
Senior catcher Cam Vaughn doubled to lead off the inning and ignited an improbable eight-run rally, which tied the game at nine apiece at the end of the seventh.
Kain Moses, feeling the momentum of the offense, turned in a perfect, 1-2-3 eighth inning and Brennan Mealer appeared to have walked off the game with a solo home run to center field, but saw the hit changed to a ground-rule double.
York eventually loaded the bases and Preston Gentry stepped to the plate and clubbed a walk-off RBI single to not just complete the biggest comeback in program history, but also send the Rockets to the Class 2A state baseball tournament.
“I just told them that there are good teams in this world. There are great teams in this world. There are tough teams in this world. There are gritty teams in this world. And then there’s the 2022 Forrest Rockets. They are never out of any ballgame, whatsoever,” Rocket coach Andy Burkett said after the win Against York.
The ride didn’t end there, as simply making it to the state tournament in Murfreesboro wasn’t enough for Forrest.
The Rockets followed up with a tournament opening win against Decatur County Riverside in a rain-shortened, 1-0 thriller.
Although the final two games the Rockets played in the tournament ended in losses, the Rockets battled through the end and saw their season end with an 9-8 loss to White House Heritage.
Forrest finished the season as the District 7-AA champion, Region 4-AA champion and with an overall record of 26-8.

* Original reporting by Chris Siers

No. 2 Veteran talent, leadership sends Tigers to 2nd round of playoffs
Earlier this summer, Marshall County Tiger coach Thomas Osteen knew his team had the potential to be a contender among the best in Class 4A.
Were they ever.
Marshall County relied on a bevy of senior leadership, a stingy defense and a balanced offense that could pile on the yards, both through the air and on the ground.
The lone hiccup in the regular season came on October 6 at Pearl Cohn, who eventually played for a state championship.
On average, the Tigers piled up 36.7 points per game and allowed just 12.5 points to opponents.
In six games, the Tigers gave up eight or fewer points, including shutouts against Glencliff and Lawrence County.
Despite falling on the road to Pearl Cohn, the Tigers locked up second-place in Region 5-AAAA and secured a home playoff game against Chester County at Preston Hopkins Field.
The ride eventually came to a close in the second-round of the Class 4A state playoffs at Lexington.
Lexington had the perfect recipe to limit the explosive Marshall County offense but running the ball and playing clock control.
That’s eventually what ended the Tigers’ season.
“I’m really proud of our kids for the way we fought them all night and gave our selves chances. We knew we wouldn’t have a lot of possessions offensively, so we had to make the most of them and didn’t do that. The margin for error is so thin against a team like Lexington,” Marshall County coach Thomas Osteen said.
With such a successful team, chalked full of seniors and quality leadership on the field, Osteen said the 2022 season was one of the most fun teams he’s been around.
“It’s tough to wrap it up. I’m just going to remember how much fun I had coaching this team. It was fun to come to work every day because these guys wanted to be pushed. They wanted to be coached. You want every season to end in a championship. That being said, Marshall County and Lewisburg has a great group of young men entering the real world. I hope Marshall County football played a small part in shaping their lives,” he said.
Junior Silas Teat directed the Tiger offense, completing 125-of-200 passing attempts for 1,645 yards. He threw 26 touchdowns and had just six interceptions on the season.
The Marshall County ground game was led by senior Demari Braden, who piled up 13 touchdowns on 828 yards, averaging nearly six yards-per-carry during the 2022 season.
The Tigers had several downfield targets for Teat as well, with sophomore Aja Jones being the big-play threat down field, while junior Jayden Randolph was Mr. Consistency and was able to move the sticks on key downs throughout the season.
Both Jones and Randolph eclipsed the 500-receiving yard mark this year and combined for 18 touchdowns.
Jakavan Curry highlighted the Tiger defense, recording 120 total tackles this season, while linebackers Thomas Beech and Trey Warner were the headhunters for Marshall County.
Marshall County finished with a 10-2 overall record this season.

* Original reporting by Chris Siers

No. 1 Lady Rockets force tiebreaker in state championship
The Forrest Lady Rocket softball program needs no introduction—the program’s history speaks for itself.
The Lady Rockets captured the 2019 Class 2A state title and looked to repeat in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the season and thwarted Forrest’s aim at back-to-back titles in as many years.
While they missed out on a title in 2020, Forrest followed in 2021 with their second-straight title, setting up yet another run at the crown in 2022.
Forrest’s postseason trek began with their 22nd-straight district title that culminated in an absolute tear through the Class 2A ranks that once again put the Lady Rockets in the state tournament.
Twice in the postseason, Forrest had to edge out wins against Community for the District 7-AA and Region 4-AA title.
After beating Community in the region championship, Forrest made quick work of Westmoreland in the Class 2A state sectional to once again qualify for the state tournament.
Forrest opened the state tournament with a comeback win over Meigs County to stay in the winner’s bracket.
It wasn’t until a 10-6 loss by Alcoa did Forrest suffer a defeat in the state tournament.
Having to come out of the consolation bracket, a 4-3 win over Loretto and an 11-5 win over Alcoa forced a winner-take-all tiebreaker against the Lady Tornadoes.
With both teams exhausted by a lengthy run in the state tournament, it was Alcoa who claimed its first-ever title with the 6-1 win over Forrest.
“We made it this far and we came home with something. Yeah, our goal is to win it, but that just doesn’t always happen so we are still successful in our eyes, we still put in the work and I am still super proud of them whether you come home with it or you don’t,” Forrest coach Shelby Lightfoot said. “That first time there is nothing like it out of all of them that you have and that is the one you remember. Hats off to them, they have a good ballclub and they could have easily shut down after we had that first game and they didn’t; they keep it close, close enough until they got their bats going, so it worked out for them.”
Forrest (30-12) only lost one senior in Addison Bunty while they bring back five juniors (Julie Williams, Hadley Frazier, Parker Wales, Carli Warner, Macyn Kirby), seven sophomores (Briley Burnham, Sarah King, Christa Warren, Abby Ferguson, Maggie Daughrity, Leslie Bartoli, Jenna Goodman), five freshmen (Ella Chilton, Emory Hall, Haddie Patton, Miranda Stout, Karson Mihalek) and several eighth-graders (Marley Chilton, Megan Dunn, Haylee Webb, Lindsey Lee) for the 2023 campaign.

*Original reporting by Anthony S. Puca