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Lady Tigers fend off Rebels to advance to regional finals
Four-game battle ends regular season
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The Dawson County Lady Tigers celebrate their win over Fannin County in the first round of the regional tournament on Oct. 1. - photo by Bob Christian

It took all seven innings but the Dawson County Lady Tigers softball team held on to win the first round tie-break game against the Fannin County Rebels by a final score of 7–5 on Oct. 1.


The victory not only advanced the team to the regional finals, where they will face the East Hall Vikings, but also marked the capstone of an epic four-game series with Fannin County.


The final game of the regular season took place on Tuesday, Sept. 25 in Fannin County. The teams took to the field knowing they would play again in the first round of the tournament; they just didn’t know where the game would be played. The winner of this game would have home field advantage and both teams played hard for that advantage.


A series of errors put the Lady Tigers down early and it looked like it was going to be a long day for the visiting team, but Fannin County returned the favor with a collection of errors that cost them the lead in the middle innings. The Rebels scored two runs on a bottom of the seventh rally but fell just short of the Tigers by a final score of 5–4. 


“The girls showed a great resilience to overcome those early errors,” said Head Coach Jimmy Pruett. “Early in the season we would not have been able to do that.”


The first round of the regional tournament took place Sept. 29 at Dawson County High School and featured the No. 4 Dawson County Tigers versus the No. 5 Fannin County Rebels. The three-game series started with a double-header.


The teams exchanged runs in the early innings but solid pitching from both Amanda Sneed of the Rebels and senior Maggie Schandera of the Tigers kept the game even until the late innings.


The difference proved to be an ugly sixth inning for the Dawson County squad that allowed the Rebels to put four runs on the board. A last inning surge by the Tigers added two runs to their total but a final score of 6–3 gave game one to the Rebels.


Game two started off featuring the same strong pitching from Sneed and Schandera that held both teams scoreless until the third inning when the Tigers’ bats came to life. Sparked by powerful multi-base hits from sophomore Bella Henson and senior Brandi Williams the Lady Tigers pushed runs across the plate to take the late game lead and held on to win by a score of 4–2.


Having split the double-header, the two teams met for one final, winner-take-all game on Monday, Oct 1. In an odd twist, the Lady Tigers lost the coin toss, so they took the first at bats as the visiting team in their home stadium. Taking full advantage of the opportunity, the Lady Tigers displayed a confidence and swagger that had been missing from the earlier games and caught the Rebels off guard.


Led by their core group of seniors Lauren Tow, Carol Drake, Schandera and Williams, who all recorded multiple hits, the Lady Tigers blasted the ball all over the yard as the Tigers put runs on the board during their first four at-bats.


In an effort to stop the onslaught the Rebels changed pitchers but, after only facing two batters, they returned their original pitcher to the mound. This quick exchange seemed to do the trick as it marked a turning point in the game and the Lady Tigers bats went quiet.


The Tigers defense was put to the test over the last three innings as Fannin County proved resurgent in their attempt to avoid elimination. Suddenly it was their bats that were hot and the Lady Tigers faced an onslaught of late inning contact and hits.


Inning by inning the Rebels closed the gap. Two runs in the fifth. Two more runs in the sixth, and suddenly it was the bottom of the seventh and they were only down by 2. The Lady Tigers spoiled the dramatic finish with a quick one-two-three, and as the last out fell into Drake’s glove they surged the field to celebrate their hard fought 7–5 victory.

The Lady Tigers play in the regional finals on Oct. 1. The first game takes place at 11 a.m. versus East Hall.