The three-time state champion Forrest Lady Rockets took on the 2005 state champion Marshall Tigerettes in a District 12-AA, intra-county showdown Friday night at Reese Hambrick Field in Lewisburg.
“We haven’t been able to do this in a year, so any time you get to go play a team in your county, it’s a big game, there is just a lot on it,” Forrest coach Shelby Lightfoot said.
The defending Class 2A state champion Lady Rockets came up with their seventh consecutive win over Marshall County with a rock solid performance from senior ace hurler Ashley Milligan, who dominated in the circle with a career high 14-strikeout, two-hit gem.
Milligan, whose ERA is a stingy .708, has only surrendered three earned in six starts and has struck out 48.
“Ashley was going at them,” Lightfoot said. “That’s kind of what we talked about, we are going to have to use her a lot this year, so coming in we wanted to use less pitches and get outs fast.”
Forrest also banged out 15 hits on the contest with freshman Briley Burnham leading the way with a 3-for-4 effort at the plate while Laura Mealer, Milligan, Katelyn Helmick, and Abby Ferguson all had a pair of hits in the contest.
Freshmen Ferguson, Burnham, and Kirby have been knocking the cover off the ball to start the season with Ferguson batting .550 and the versatile fielder also leads the team with 7 RBIs and 6 runs scored and Burnham is batting .421 with 4 RBIs and both have one home run on the season.
Kirby is batting .455 with 4 runs scored and 2 RBIs.
“We have a big freshmen class and we feel like all of them can do what they are doing,” Lightfoot said. “Our underclassmen have a lot of travel ball behind them and we have coached them since middle school, so we know what they can bring.”
Jenna Blanton, Maggie Daughrity, Kiersten Blalock, and Kirby all came up with one hit apiece.
Demiyah Blackman and Ellie Luce had the only two hits off Milligan and Luce was the lone Tigerette base runner to reach third base.
MCHS starting pitcher Taylor Pickle set down Forrest 1-2-3 in the top of the first inning and Milligan struck out the side in order in the home half of the frame.
A Burnham two-out RBI single opened the scoring in the top of the second and Milligan came back with three more consecutive strikeouts in a row in the bottom of the stanza.
Pickle had a strong third inning, setting down Forrest in order and Milligan made it eight strikeouts in a row before Blackman slashed a two-out single to right field in the home half of the inning.
Milligan struck out the next batter and Forrest added three runs in the top of the fourth inning on a RBI sacrifice fly by Ferguson and a bases loaded, two-run double by Blanton.
Luce slashed a one-out single in the bottom of the inning and made it all the way to third base on a pair of wild pitches, but a pop-up out to Mealer at second base ended the Marshall County scoring threat.
Mealer led off the top of the fifth inning and reached third base on an infield error, combined with a bad carom.
Two batters later, Ferguson drilled an RBI double and Forrest led 5-0.
Tatum Garrett reached on a Forrest error to lead off the home half of the inning, but was gunned down at second by Lady Rockets’ catcher Parker Wales, trying to advance on a ball in the dirt on an MCHS strikeout.
There was no scoring in the sixth inning and Forrest busted the game wide open in the top of the seventh as they sent 11 batters to the plate and scored seven runs on six hits in the frame.
The Lady Rockets (6-1-1, 2-0) play in the 19th Annual Southern Warrior Classic with games against Siegel and Stewarts Creek today and Smyrna and Mt. Juliet on Wednesday.
Forrest is a two-time champion (2018 and 2019) of the tournament hosted by Riverdale High School that attracts over 75 teams from TN, AL, AR, KY, IN, IL, NM, NJ, PA, SC, and WI.
“We have a very hard schedule, but we plan that and the girls know that, win or lose we want to go over there and compete,” Lightfoot said. “We want to see good pitching and that will help us down the road, so we are going to go and compete and try to play to the best of our ability.”
The Tigerettes are off until April 5 when they travel for another intra-county rivalry contest at Cornersville.
MCHS beat the Lady Bulldogs 11-8 at Reese Hambrick Field in the first game of the season series.
Forrest 010 310 7-12 15 1
MCHS 000 000 0-0 2 5
Forrest: Briley Burnham 3-for-4, Laura Mealer 2-for-4, Ashley Milligan 2-for-5, Katelyn Helmick 2-for-4, Abby Ferguson 2-for-5, Jenna Blanton 1-for-4, Maggie Daughrity 1-for-2, Kiersten Blalock 1-for-4, Macyn Kirby 1-for-2.
BB: Helmick, Karli Warner.
RS: Mealer 2, Addison Bunty 2, Blanton, Daughrity, Helmick, Ferguson, Blalock, Burnham, Kirby, Krista Warren.
2B: Ferguson, Mealer, Milligan.
RBI: Blanton 2, Ferguson 2, Mealer, Milligan, Daughrity.
SAC: Blanton, Kirby.
SAC FLY: Ferguson.
ROE: Blanton 2, Ferguson, Kirby, Blalock.
SB: Blanton 2, Helmick 2, Warren, Daughrity, Ferguson, Jenna Goodman.
Team LOB: 8
WP: Ashley Milligan (7IP, 2H, 0R, 0ER, 14K, 2BB).
Marshall County: Demiyah Blackman 1-for-2, Ellie Luce 1-for-3.
BB: Kaniyah Taylor, Abby McGehee.
ROE: Tatum Garrett.
E: Madison Hery 3, Taylor, Garrett.
LP: Taylor Pickle (6IP, 9H, 5R, 4ER, 0K, 2BB).
Relief: Haylee Hobby (1IP, 7H, 7R, 2ER, 0K, 1BB).
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