Bringing a .386 team batting average and a team on base percentage of .433, the Dawson County Lady Tigers (2–5) hoped that their Thursday, Aug. 23 game against the Cherokee Bluff Bears (2–5) would be the one where their aggressiveness at the plate would finally pay off.
Senior Maggie Schandera took the mound marking her eighth start of the season. Featuring a ratio of 33 strike-outs to seven walks over the season and an ERA of 4.89, Schandera kept the ball low in the strike zone and, along with solid infield play, retired the side in seven pitches.
Leading off the bottom of the first, senior Carol Drake continued her ability to reach first by safely grabbing the bag on an outfield error. Drake stole second on the following pitch and then moved to third on an infield error. Advancing home on a fielder’s choice for the first run of the game, the Lady Tigers took the lead early and never looked back.
Reaching base on a single, Schandera was replaced with courtesy runner Kaitlyn Bennet, who was quickly driven around on a deep triple from the bat of Bella Henson. Continuing the inning and the scoring with an RBI single, Tori Martin was also replaced with a courtesy runner, Annsley Anglin.
Cherokee Bluff allowed the inning to continue with their third error, preventing a double play, but the Bears grabbed the second out with the throw to first to nab Brea Crane. A call for catcher’s interference put Lauren Tow on base after she had gone down in the count by two strikes and with the bases loaded, Mary Farris drove a double into left field for the first of her four RBIs on the night.
With a ground-out to end the inning, the Lady Tigers moved into the second inning with a commanding 7–0 lead over the Cherokee Bluff Bears.
Coming out swinging, the Bears looked determined as the inning with the leadoff batter drove the ball hard into right field for a single. Back-to-back singles followed and suddenly the Bears had the bases loaded with no outs and the Lady Tigers defense was put to the test.
Not able to gather in a sharp grounder, shortstop Drake kept the ball in front of her, allowing only one run across the plate but keeping the bases loaded. Cherokee Bluff wasted no time in taking advantage of the error with the next batter driving a double deep into left field bringing home two more runs and cutting the Tigers lead down to 7–3.
Recovering in dramatic fashion the Lady Tigers fought their way out of trouble with a spectacular 4-3-6 double play that ended with a trapped runner expertly chased down with a perfectly executed run-down drill. With a pop-up to end the inning, the Lady Tigers escaped into their dugout with the lead intact.
The bottom of the second opened with a first pitch ground out by Schandera as the Bears looked to end the Tigers time at the plate quickly. Two quick singles from Henson and Martin dashed those hopes and the Bears found themselves right back in hot water.
Quick thinking and quicker reflexes from the Bears caught Henson off second base, removing her from scoring position and securing the second out, and it looked like Cherokee Bluff was going to escape any further damage and get another shot at closing in on the Tigers.
Olivia Martinez, the batter during the pick off, fought through a long plate appearance to keep the Tigers alive with a single to just far enough along the third base line to put her on first and advanced Martin to second. Crane added another single and the bases were loaded for Tow, the sixth batter of the inning. With a deep double to center Tow drove in two more runs for the Tigers and extended their lead to 9–3.
Twelve more batters came to the plate. Twelve, as the Dawson County bats refused to be silent and the Lady Tigers began pounding the ball all over Waldrip Field. Every member of the active roster tallied at least one hit over the course of the 20-minute two out rally. Featuring a double off the bat of Schandera and eight singles scattered all over the park the Tigers drove another eight runs across home plate before ending the inning with a routine grounder to the pitcher.
“We have been hitting the ball hard all year against some good pitchers,” Head Coach Jimmy Pruett said. “This job gets a lot easier when you have confidence in your offense.”
Taking a 17–3 lead into the top of the third inning it was clear that the Lady Tigers were focused and determined as centerfielder Tow opened the inning with a spectacular diving catch to rob the Bears of multiple bases. With a strike-out of the next batter and another fly out to center field, Cherokee Bluff was retired without putting any runs on the board.
Drake once again demonstrated her ability to reach base as the lead off batter with a single to start the bottom of the third inning, but the Bears (showing remarkable fortitude) came together defensively and retired the following three batters with ease.
Coming to the plate in the top of the fourth, down 14 and facing a loss via the run rule, the ladies from Cherokee Bluff settled down to the business of scoring a run. Putting together a pair of doubles and some solid contact on the ball the Bears managed to bring two runs around the bags but it proved not to be enough as a ground out to Henson ended the game with the Lady Tigers 17 and the Bears 5 the final score.
The Lady Tigers faced the North Hall Trojans Monday, Aug. 27 with the final score of 5–1, dropping the Tigers to 3–6 overall and 1–3 in the conference.
The team hosted the Fannin County Rebels on Tuesday, Aug. 28 but results were not available as of press time.