The four-time state champion Forrest Lady Rockets exemplified the never give in, never give up legacy on Saturday at the Spring Fling XIX in Murfreesboro, playing three games in one day after falling …
The four-time state champion Forrest Lady Rockets exemplified the never give in, never give up legacy on Saturday at the Spring Fling XIX in Murfreesboro, playing three games in one day after falling in to the loser’s bracket on Thursday.
Forrest came up with a win over Loretto in the morning loser’s bracket final and handed Alcoa its first tournament loss, setting up a rubber match game between the Lady Rockets and the Tornados for the Class 2A state title.
Defending back-to-back state champions Forrest was appearing in its ninth state championship game while Alcoa was in new territory, playing in its first state title game in school history and it was the Tornados who came out on top 6-1.
“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.”
Junior Julie Williams was in the circle for Forrest and Gabby Burkhart took the ball for the Tornados.
Both pitchers threw scoreless ball through the first four innings before Alcoa broke the deadlock on an Olivia Emert two-run double in the top of the fifth inning.
It could have been 3-0 if not for an incredible diving catch in left field by Forrest senior Addison Bunty for the third out.
Bunty slashed a two-out triple in to right field corner and scored on a Briley Burnham base hit to cut the Alcoa lead in half in the home half of the fifth inning.
In the top of the sixth inning, the Tornados played small ball as Kara Pitts led off with a single to left field and Dylan Jablonski followed with a successful sacrifice bunt.
A passed ball sent Pitts to third base and she scored on sacrifice fly RBI by Addrianna King to make it 3-1.
Burkhart set down Forrest 1-2-3 in the bottom of the sixth and in the top of the seventh, Alcoa went long ball when Jaylin Halliburton broke the game open with a three-run homerun to make it 6-1.
Burkhart got the first two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, but Forrest was not going to go away just yet as Carli Warner and Addison Bunty came up with back-to-back base hits.
A fly ball to Trinity Hodge in left field ended Forrest’s season as state runner-ups and the Tornados captured the elusive first-ever state championship.
“The big thing about this week we have been hitting good, this game we just didn’t get going,” Lightfoot said. “I would say we left some stranded, but in reality we just didn’t get anybody on and didn’t make adjustments like we had been doing, so today they are better than us.”
Forrest (30-12) only loses one senior in 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.
“We just hope we can attract some more girls,” Lightfoot said. “We try to do the right thing, not just on the field but we preach to them about just being good people outside, being good students, and trying to do the right thing, so hopefully that karma goes our way on the field.”
Alcoa 000 021 3-6 10 1
Forrest 000 010 0-1 4 1
Alcoa: Olivia Emert 4-for-4, Cassa Arnold 1-for-4, Italia Kyle 1-for-4, Jaylin Halliburton 1-for-3, Kara Pitts 1-for-3, Gabby Burkhart 1-for-3, Abby Hembree 1-for-3.
RS: Arnold, Kyle, Emert, Halliburton, Pitts, Trinity Hodge.
2B: Burkhart, Arnold, Emert.
RBI: Halliburton 3, Emert 2, Adrianna King.
SAC: Dylan Jablonski, Halliburton.
Team LOB: 5
WP: Gabby Burkhart (7IP, 4H, 1R, 1ER, 4K, 0BB).
Forrest: Addison Bunty 2-for-3, Carli Warner 1-for-3, Briley Burnham 1-for-3.
Team LOB: 3
LP: Julie Williams (6IP, 10H, 6R, 5ER, 3K, 0BB).
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