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Ladies are Gold Division champions
DCHS Softball pic
Emily Hunsucker takes a big swing as third base coach Nickie Rogers looks on. - photo by Pam Jacobs Dawson Community News

It was a long Saturday for the Dawson County High School softball team.

In the end, the Lady Tigers came away with a Gold Division championship at Lanier Point. The team finished playing around 12:15 a.m. with a 7-3 triumph over rival Union County.

Union County won the championship last season in Gainesville.

Due to weather, the tournament game starting times were pushed back, making Saturday a marathon.

After losing the opening game to Wesleyan on Friday night, 8-4, the team bounced back to win five straight games and capture the championship.

Dawson County got wins over Gainesville, 16-0, Gilmer, 3-2, Commerce, 7-5, Habersham Central, 8-6, and then the final game against Union County.

The last time Dawson County won the Lanier Point tournament was in 2003.

"It was a very long morning, day and night," said head coach Jimmy Pruett. "We had clutch hitting all day long. When we needed it we got it. Our defense also played very well."

Pitching was also a strong point for the Lady Tigers.

"I thought our pitching was good from all three pitchers all day. They really threw the ball well," Pruett said.

Jenna Abbott, Auburn commit, is nursing a shoulder injury and can only pitch three innings per game, according to Pruett.

Junior Martie Rogers filled in and did a great job for the Lady Tigers all day long.

"Jen's shoulder is getting stronger every day. Hopefully she will be fully recovered soon. I thought Martie Rogers did splendid work on the mound. Martie pulled out the championship game. I was really proud of her," Pruett said.

On Friday the Lady Tigers faced AA runner-up Wesleyan to begin the tournament. Dawson County was trailing 1-0 when the skies opened up, suspending play for several minutes.

After the delay, Wesleyan opened up to take the 4-run win.

Wesleyan's Amanda DeLaPerriere got the win on the mound and did some damage at the plate. DeLaPerriere is headed to the University of Indiana next year.

DeLaPerriere was 1-for-1 with two RBIs, a walk and a run scored for the Wolves.

Against Gainesville in Saturday's opening game, the Lady Tigers used an 11-run third inning to cruise to the win.

In the second game against Gilmer, Lady Tiger Tabitha Morrison came through in the clutch.

Trailing 2-1 with two outs in the final inning, Morrison smoked a double that brought home the go ahead run to give Dawson County the 3-2 win.

Morrison is a freshman.

"We hit the ball really well in clutch moments," said Lady Tigers senior Carly Gilreath, who started a six-run inning with a lead-off single against Habersham Central later in the day.

In the semifinals of the gold bracket against Habersham Central, Dawson County senior pitcher Abbott pitched three innings and reached in all three plate appearance.

In the second inning, Abbott settled down in the pitching circle and recorded back-to-back strikeouts to start the inning.

However, it was her contribution at the plate in the game against Habersham Central that meant even more.

With two runners in scoring position, she was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Samantha Moulder had one of three RBI singles in the first inning for Dawson County, which also took advantage of three errors in the field by Habersham Central.

Abbott's first hit of the game against Habersham Central was a second-inning double on a fly ball that landed just inside the foul line. Then in the third, she followed it up with a hard hit single up the middle.

"I thought Jenna, Carly Gilreath, Samantha Moulder, Natalie Burt and Tabitha [Morrison] all had a very good tournament at the plate," Pruett said.

Pruett said that despite the wins, his team still has a lot of work left to do.

"We have plenty to work on. We have to do a better job of taking care of the little things because if you don't then they turn into big things. Things like missing signs and getting the lead runner out," Pruett said.

The Lady Tigers will play in the Bulldog Invitational this week.

The tournament is hosted by North Gwinnett High School and will take place at several locations.

Dawson County will open play at 7:30 p.m. today against Winder-Barrow High School.

Dawson County will play next at 7:30 p.m. Thursday against South Forsyth, while Friday the team will play at 5:30 p.m. against Dacula.

The team will then play on Saturday with games at 12:30 p.m. against Gainesville and at 2:30 p.m. against Apalachee.

All tournament games will be played at West Jackson High School for Dawson County.

"This tournament will be tough, some of the better teams in the state will be there. [Class] AAAAA and [Class] AAAAAA teams. We will really be tested," Pruett said.

DCN regional staff contributed to this article.