Lady Rockets finish unbeaten in district play
The Forrest Lady Rockets wrapped up regular season play Wednesday on senior night at the Field of Dreams in Chapel Hill with a 3-1 win over Community.
Forrest extended its all-time unbeaten mark versus the Viqueens to 43 straight games dating back to 2002 and the two-run margin tied the closest the Unionville squad has ever come to beating the Lady Rockets.
The only other time Community has come within two runs of victory over Chapel Hill came in the 2015 state championship season when Forrest beat the Viqueens 2-0 in the last week of the regular season.
Forrest (29-2, 10-0) clinched the regular season District 12-AA title last week and hosts the winner of Thursday’s first round district tournament game pitting Community versus Murfreesboro Central Magnet.
“It’s important to win and get home field advantage, so we will see if we can do something with it,” Forrest coach Becky Cheatham said. “If we do what we are capable of, I’m confident we can make a run.”
On the other side of the bracket, second place Marshall County (17-9, 7-3) hosts the Nolensville/Giles County winner on Friday night at Reese Hambrick Field in Lewisburg.
The Lady Rockets and the Tigerettes, who both earned a first-round bye, are on a collision course with a semifinal round game looming on Saturday night at Chapel Hill.
The two-time state champion Lady Rockets have not lost to a Division I Tennessee school the entire season with its two losses coming in a pair of 3-2 setbacks against Alabama 7A defending state champion Buckhorn and Division II Girls Prep School from Chattanooga.
“We are very excited about it (district tournament), but we really have to mentally prepare,” Kennedy Gillespie said. “I think we are really ready for it if we just come out here and get our heads in the game and work together as a team.”
“Once one of us starts to hit, it’s like a chain reaction and we all start, so I think our chances for a third (state title) are really good.”
On Wednesday night the Lady Rockets struggled with Community hurler Gracie Greer’s slow pitching and only managed seven hits in the game with Anna Blanton leading the way with a perfect 3-for-3 mark at the plate.
“He (Community coach Chris Grooms) knows our number I think that we struggle with slow pitching, so kudos to him and we just need to work on stuff like that,” Cheatham said.
Jenna Blanton had two hits in three at bats with a triple, an RBI, and a run scored.
Carson Warner had one hit and Kennedy Gillespie also had one hit, but it was a big one as she slammed a second inning homerun.
Forrest ace lefty Lauren Gillespie didn’t need much help, tossing a three-hit complete game in the circle with three strikeouts and two bases on balls.
Lauren Gillespie took a no-hitter into the sixth before giving up a double to Gabby Doyle and single to Jaley Vincent in the sixth inning and Hailey Smotherman hit a solo homerun for Community in the seventh inning.
“We were just trying to throw off the plate a little bit and make them go after it,” Gillespie said. “I just wanted to make our seniors proud and get a ‘W’ tonight.”
Lauren Gillespie retired the first 10 batters she faced in order before Doyle reached on a one-out Forrest error in the top of the fourth inning.
Kennedy Gillespie’s two-out, solo shot in the second inning gave Forrest a 1-0 lead and in the bottom of the third inning Jenna Blanton produced a run all by herself when she ripped a two-out triple and scored on a passed ball to make it 2-0.
“I’ve been in a little slump, so I stayed after the game the other day and hit for two hours,” Kennedy Gillespie said. “I just needed to clear my mind.”
“I have a hard time staying back and waiting on the ball, so when I saw it there I just kinda took it where it was pitched.”
In the bottom of the fifth inning, pinch hitter Katelyn Helmick walked to lead off the frame and went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Kaitlin Leverette before scoring on an RBI base hit by Jenna Blanton.
Community put up a serious threat in the top of the sixth inning, loading the bases with two outs in the before Lauren Gillespie escaped on a ground ball out to Jenna Blanton at shortstop.
Smitherman’s one-out solo dinger in the top of the seventh inning made it 3-1 before Lauren Gillespie fielded back-to-back grounders back to the circle to end the game.
Community 000 000 1-1 3 0
Forrest 011 010 X-3 7 1
Community: Jaley Vincent 1-for-3, Gabby Doyle 1-for-3, Hailey Smotherman 1-for-3.
BB: Karla Pena 2.
SB: Doyle 2.
LP: Gracie Greer (6IP, 7H, 3R, 3ER, 1K, 1BB).
Forrest: Anna Blanton 3-for-3, Jenna Blanton 2-for-3, Carson Warner 1-for-3, Kennedy Gillespie 1-for-1.
RS: Jenna Blanton, Kennedy Gillespie, Katelyn Helmick.
3B: Jenna Blanton.
HR: Kennedy Gillespie.
RBI: Jenna Blanton, Kennedy Gillespie.
IW: Kennedy Gillespie 2.
SAC BUNT: Kaitlin Leverette, Ally Blanton.
SB: Anna Blanton.
PIK: Jenna Blanton.
E: Jenna Blanton.
WP: Lauren Gillespie (7IP, 3H, 1R, 1ER, 3K, 2BB).