When most high school teenagers are just getting out of bed, the Lady Tiger softball team had already conducted 30 minutes of workouts in the humidity of a typical Georgia morning.
Dawson County began voluntary workouts last week for the upcoming 2013 softball season. The team will begin official practice with tryouts at 6 p.m. Aug. 1.
The Lady Tigers will scrimmage Pickens on Aug. 7 before beginning the regular season with an annual trip to Gainesville to play in the Lanier Pointe Tournament Aug. 9.
Long-time Coach Jimmy Pruett is busily preparing his team for the beginning of his 19th season at the helm of Dawson County.
"Despite only bringing back four starters from last season, I feel really good about this year's team," Pruett said. "We have a good nucleus to build around."
Dawson County plays in Region 7-AAA, which arguably is the toughest Class AAA region in the state. The Lady Tigers captured the regular season region championship last season before losing to Buford in the Region tournament.
Buford went on to win the state championship.
Also in the region are Banks County, West Hall, White County, East Hall, Fannin County and North Hall.
"We have to get ready to play every day. There is not a soft spot on our schedule, so you can't let down in any game," Pruett said.
Returning for Dawson County this season will be pitcher Mardie Rogers, who is coming off a great season and shared the starting role with Auburn-signee, Jenna Abbott.
Infield starters are Joy Lewis, Emily Hunsucker and Tabitha Morrison.
The Lady Tigers lost 10 seniors from last year's 19-10-1 team. Dawson reached the Sweet Sixteen before being ousted by Ringgold.
Gone from last year's team are Abbott, Samantha Moulder, Carly Gilreath, Gracie Hovan, Becca Monkus, Taylor Shirley, Taylor Willoughby, Kenna Seitz and Natalie Burt.
"Last year's seniors were great," said Pruett. "They led by example, worked extremely hard and were successful on the field. We are going to lose a ton of experience but we must get ready for this season. I feel really good about our team."