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Viqueens settle for 2nd in 7-AA tourney

By WILL CARTER ~ Sports Writer
Posted 5/12/23

CHAPEL HILL —The game plan was simple for the Forrest Lady Rockets heading into the District 7-AA Championship—score at least five runs and keep their opponent under five runs.  That …

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Viqueens settle for 2nd in 7-AA tourney


CHAPEL HILL —The game plan was simple for the Forrest Lady Rockets heading into the District 7-AA Championship—score at least five runs and keep their opponent under five runs. 
That same game plan produced a slew of success throughout the season, and it proved to be sound again in Thursday night’s final as the Lady Rockets dominated in the field and at the plate for a 11-1 victory over the Community Viqueens. 
Starting pitcher Taylor Moreland tossed all six innings, allowing just one run on four hits, and five Lady Rockets recorded two or more hits with Ella Chilton leading the way with a 3-for-4 day at the plate and a game-high three RBIs. 
“Coming into the game, our goal was to score five runs and keep them under five. We feel like we can win a lot of ball games if we do that,” Forrest head coach Shelby Lightfoot said. “We pounded the zone well on the mound, hit the ball well, and played small ball when we needed to.” 
Playing small ball has been a point of emphasis for the Lady Rockets all season with the amount of speed they possess throughout their lineup, and they executed that strategy many times in the championship game with four bunts that either scored a run or advanced runners into scoring position. 
“We’re a speedy team and hit the ball well, but sometimes getting three consecutive hits is hard, so we work on small ball as much as we can for those situations,” Lightfoot said. “The other team has to make a good catch, throw, and tag, so that’s three to our one when we do that. We try to pride ourselves on that.”
Forrest (24-11) got to work quickly on Thursday night by securing three quick outs in the top of the first inning after Anna Haskins reached first base on an error in the leadoff spot for the Viqueens (17-11-1), and they followed it up with two runs on three hits in the bottom half of the inning to take a 2-0 lead. 
Macyn Kirby knocked a leadoff single to start things off, and moved over to third after Moreland laid down a sacrifice bunt. 
Haskins forced the Forrest into a fly out for the second out of the inning, but an error in the next at-bat scored Kirby from third, and Chilton followed with a double to score the second and final run of the inning. 
Early errors and an absence of energy throughout the past few games has been a thorn in the side of Viqueen head coach Cam Ferrell, and that led to them having to play from behind in the district final. 
“Well, the last few games we’ve played we were flat. I’m gonna have to do something to get their energy up, and we have to stop making mistakes,” Ferrell said. “Every time we’ve played Forrest, we start off with an error that sets us back. If we cut down our mistakes and have some more energy, then this game is a little bit different. Until we do that, it’s going to be a problem every time we play.”
Community knocked a pair of singles in the top of the second inning which put runners on the corners with two outs, but Moreland locked in to secure an inning-ending strikeout for her first of the game. 
The Lady Rockets followed it up with one run in the bottom half after Briley Burnham led off with a double, and Kirby scored her from third on a ground out to make it 3-0 after Jenna Goodman moved Burnham over on a sacrifice bunt. 
After two quick outs in the top of the third, the Viqueens found some life with Abigail Murrill singling and stealing second base in the next at-bat. 
In the same at-bat, Abigail Brown singled to center field to score Murrill and make it a 3-1 game before Moreland’s second strikeout of the game ended the rally. 
Forrest answered in the bottom half with two runs on two hits to take a 5-1 lead, including a leadoff triple by Abby Ferguson who scored on a Chilton single in the following at-bat. 
Community went down 1-2-3 in the top of the fourth, and again Moreland ended the inning with a strikeout for her third and final of the game. 
“We feel like we have a great pitching staff this year,” Lightfoot said. “We tell them to just locate and hit their spots, and she did that tonight. If we locate and hit well, we will win these types of games.”
The Lady Rockets added two more runs in the bottom of the fourth to take a 7-1 lead, and ended the top of the fifth inning defensively with Moreland throwing only three pitches. 
After taking a 10-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth, it took Moreland and the Lady Rockets only four pitches to secure three outs in the top of the sixth, and Kirby secured the championship in the bottom half with a two-out single to score Haddie Van Platten from second base for the 11-1 finish. 
Winning is important for any team that puts on a uniform and takes the field, but for Lighfoot there’s more to coaching than winning games and hanging banners. 
“It’s really just about the girls. First and foremost I want them to be great young ladies,” Lightfoot said. “It means a lot to me as a coach to have great young ladies on this team. State and everything is nice, but it means more to me to set these girls up for their futures and not just here.”
While Moreland went the distance for the Lady Rockets, it was pitching-by-committee for the Viqueens with 7-AA Pitcher of the Year, Annie Prince, sidelined with an injury she suffered in the second round of the tournament. 
Haskins tossed the first two innings while Taylar Wessner came in for three innings of relief, and Maleeah Martin pitched 2/3s of an inning, having come in the game in the sixth inning for Community. 
Without Prince, Ferrell is looking for everyone to step up and play with more energy to keep pushing through the postseason. 
“We didn’t have Annie last year, and we went to the state tournament. She is a great pitcher, but she doesn’t make the team,” Ferrell said. “We all have to step up and play, but we aren’t doing that right now. I think they’re done hearing me tell them to stop playing flat, and play with more energy. So we’ll be alright, and I think we have a good chance to be in the region championship. When we get there, we’re gonna figure it out and get it done.”
Both squads will play in the Region 4-AA tournament on Monday, May 15th, with Forrest hosting Whites Creek at time to be determined, while Community will travel to play East Nashville at Shelby Park at 4 p.m.

Forrest 212 231 x — 11 12 1
Community 001 000 x — 1 4 3

Forrest: Ella Chilton 3-for-4, Abby Ferguson 2-for-3, Taylor Moreland, Maggie Daughrity 2-for-4, Briley Burnham 1-for-2, Macyn Kirby 2-for-5.
Community: Taylar Wessner 1-for-2, Abigail Murrill 1-for-3, Abigail Brown 1-for-3, Alana Tate 1-for-3. 

WP: Moreland
LP: Haskins