The Dawson County High School softball team will open the regular season on Friday at the Lanier Point Softball Tournament in Gainesville.
The Lady Tigers will open up with The Wesleyan School in a 6:30 p.m. game on Friday.
Gone from last year's team are Kimberly Wallace, a 4-year starter at catcher and leadoff hitter, Morgan Huber, Kristi Hyams and Anna Torres.
Head coach Jimmy Pruett has a strong nucleus of seniors to begin the season with, led by Auburn signee, Jenna Abbott.
Joining Abbott in their final seasons are: Natalie Burt, Becca Monkus, Samantha Moulder, Carly Gilreath and Taylor Willoughby.
The Lady Tigers will also rely on junior pitcher/first baseman Martie Rogers.
Pruett and his squad will try to shake a disappointing end to last season.
The Lady Tigers were eliminated by Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe in the first round of the state playoffs. Dawson County finished the season with a 21-11 record.
"We aim to be better than we were last year and get deeper in the state playoffs," Pruett said.
Pruett said defense and clutch hitting will play big roles in this year's success.
"We must make all of the routine plays in the field, we cannot give up extra outs. Also we must improve on getting the big two out hits," he said.
With the move to Class 7-AAA the team will face some familiar opponents in Fannin County, East Hall and Banks County.
The region will also include Buford, who has won the state championship in Class AA the last five years.
Also in the new region are: North Hall, White County, West Hall and East Hall.
"This may be the toughest region in the state in Class AAA," Pruett said.
"We have to play solid on both sides, allow no big innings on defense, and be clutch on offense to be successful this season," he added.
Pruett has been the head coach at Dawson County for 16 years.
Longtime assistant Nickie Rogers will return this year for her 15th season.
Gone will be Mark Ragsdale.
Ragsdale has resigned and is headed to take a job in Alabama at Cordova High School. The long time softball, girls basketball, and baseball assistant is returning to Alabama to be close to his hometown.
The Lady Tigers will continue tournament play at 9:30 a.m. Saturday morning against Gainesville.