For the No. 7-ranked Lady Tigers, the road to the State Championship Tournament in Columbus runs through Ringgold.
The Dawson County varsity softball team (19-8-1) will go west today hoping for an expansion of their championship goals as they matchup with the Region 5-AAA Tournament Champions in a best-of-three series.
No. 2-ranked Ringgold will host Dawson after advancing in the State Playoffs with a series victory over North Oconee in the first round.
Dawson (Region 7-AAA) enters the series having won 14 of its last 18 games, while Ringgold has won 14 of its last 16 contests.
Lady Tigers head coach Jim Pruett expects the Ringgold hitters to present a solid challenge, while the team also features a couple of strong pitchers.
Just like Dawson, Ringgold is a traditionally good squad playing in a competitive region.
At this point in the season (Sweet 16), all the teams remaining are quality opponents, according to Pruett. Its a time when teams must remember not to panic if they get behind in a game, as one play might decide the outcome, the coach added.
After two seasons of being eliminated in the first round of State, Dawson is ready to continue its upward trend.
I feel that when we swing the bat like we are capable, were a good team, Pruett said.
Swinging the bat well turned out to be just the thing the Lady Tigers needed in their sweep of Woodward Academy (Region 6-AAA) last week in the first round of the State Playoffs.
Traveling to College Park to take on the second-seeded Lady War Eagles (16-9), Dawson scored early and often to take game one 9-1 in five innings.
Senior pitcher Jenna Abbott earned the win for Dawson, while sophomore Joy Lewis had a pair of big hits for the Lady Tigers.
Game one was one of the better games all season in all phases, Pruett said, while adding that the Lady Tigers ran the bases well, taking extra bases when they could, and also were top-notch on defense.
Senior Samantha Moulder had a big day at the plate in both games, going 7-for-8 and driving in some key runs.
Game two saw Dawson battle back from a mid-game deficit before earning a 5-3 win.
Abbott smacked a two-run homerun to give the Lady Tigers the lead before senior Carly Gilreath used her speed to beat out an inside-the-park homerun down the right field line for an insurance run.
Junior Martie Rogers earned the win in the pitchers circle with six innings of work, while Abbott picked up the save.
To be successful today in round two of State, Dawson will have to find a way to push runs across the plate versus a typically stingy Ringgold defense that has allowed an average of two runs per game.
First pitch is set for 4 p.m. with game two at 6:30 p.m. A third game (if necessary) is slated for 2 p.m. tomorrow.