Dawson County Lady Tigers Softball
Head coach: Justin Rickett, first season
Last year’s record: 7-14, fifth in Region 7-3A
Key returners: Rylie Erickson (Sr. INF), Annslee Kirby (Sr. C), Olivia Martinez (Sr. P/INF), Reese Moore (Jr. P), Emily Kurtz (Jr. OF), Lauren Kurtz (Jr. INF) and Layne Bailey (So. P/UTL)
Key newcomers: Anna Glover (Sr.), CeCe Gonzalez (Jr.), Micah Burruss (Fr.) and Ace Cochran (Fr.)
Season Outlook: Last season, the Lady Tigers barely missed out on sneaking into the GHSA 3A state playoffs with a fifth-place finish in the region. Only two games back from North Hall, the Lady Tigers excelled defensively, allowing only the third most runs in their region throughout the season. However, a bad taste was left in their mouth after losing the final four games of the season.
This upcoming season, everything has changed for the Lady Tigers. Longtime head coach Jimmy Pruett retired from coaching and former West Forsyth head coach Justin Rickett was hired to replace him. Assistant coach Savannah Huffstetler took a job as head coach at Denmark High School and standout Bella Henson graduated.
Rickett gains seven seniors who he has leaned on significantly to help the team buy into what he is trying to sell.
“I tell them all the time how proud I am of them because of how much they care about each other,” Rickett said. “For a coach to get their kids to care about one another is when you have a chance for something to be successful and special.”
The Lady Tigers will keep all three of their pitchers this season, senior Olivia Martinez, junior Reese Moore and sophomore Layne Bailey, who led the staff with a 3.86 earned run average and 39 strikeouts.
Bailey and Martinez will also be key bats for the Lady Tigers this season. The duo was second and third on the team in runs batted and Martinez was behind only Henson in runs, hits and batting average.
Annslee Kirby, Lauren Kurtz and Moore all hit .300 or better at the plate last season. Along with her sister Emily, the Kurtz’s finished with 19 combined stolen bases and will be a strong presence at the top of the Lady Tigers’ lineup.
Rylie Erickson has already gotten an offer from Piedmont College this summer and will look to make some noise in her senior season.