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Lady Tigers finish fifth in state after one win performance at state tournament
Lady Tigers softball.jpg

After going 7-1 in their last eight games up until Friday, Oct. 29, the Dawson County Lady Tigers softball team were mercy-ruled in both their games on Friday and were eliminated from the GHSA 3A state tournament in Columbus, Ga. 

The Lady Tigers struggled offensively on Friday but faced great pitching. The team lost 8-0 in five innings to Harlem High School and then lost 9-0 to Southeast Bulloch in their elimination game Friday night. 

Dawson County strung together three hits in the loss to Harlem and were held hitless against SE Bulloch. Their pitcher, Alana Barnard, is committed to join Georgia Southern’s softball team next year. 

Lady Tigers head coach Justin Rickett threw the kitchen sink at SE Bulloch, trying all three of his season-long pitchers in Reese Moore, Olivia Martinez and Layne Bailey. 

The Lady Tigers started the state tournament by continuing their dominant run through the state playoffs with a 13-5 victory over Pike County in the first game of the GHSA 3A state tournament in Columbus, Ga. on Thursday afternoon. 

“It’s awesome,” Rickett said. “This is a great’s unbelievable. It’s the first time anyone in our dugout has been here and experienced this. I can tell you it’s lived up to the hype. The girls are so excited. This group is special and I’ve been telling them that since day one. They’re starting to believe it, too.” 

Every member of the Lady Tigers’ starting lineup recorded a hit in the winning effort. Senior Olivia Martinez and sophomore Layne Bailey led the team in hits with three a piece and both sent a ball over the fence for a home run. Bailey drove four runs into the plate and Martinez drove three runs in. 

Bailey was also Thursday’s starting pitcher. Other than a three run first inning, Bailey settled down and allowed two runs (one earned) on eight hits for the remainder of the game, notching the complete game victory. 

Down 3-0 in the top of the second, junior Reese Moore came to the plate and led the inning off with a double, starting the chain of events that led to 13 Lady Tiger runs. Moore finished the game going 2-for-5 with a run batted in and a run scored. Senior Rylie Erickson and freshmen Micah Burruss and Ace Cochran each collected two hits.  

Seniors Ainsley Allen and Annslee Kirby each drove in two runs and junior Lauren Kurtz scored two runs in the win. 

“I’d be lying to you if I came up with some kind of reason we started clicking...just gave them patience and let them become what they are and it’s special what they’re becoming,” Rickett said. 

Just the fact that the team made it to the state playoffs was an impressive feat. The team won their final two games of the regular season and still needed a North Hall loss to advance as the fourth seed out of Region 7-3A. 

By the end of their season, Dawson County was the only team left in their region, the only four seed to advance to the state tournament out of any GHSA classification and won their day one game 13-5. 

All of this was done in Rickett’s first season and after the team started the season on an eight-game losing streak. 

Tuesday may not have been the Lady Tigers best day of the season, but the team never stopped cheering their teammates on from the dugout , despite what the scoreboard showed. 

The Lady Tigers graduate seven seniors off their roster: Ainsley Allen, Rylie Erickson, Anna Glover, Emily Jordan, Annslee Kirby, Olivia Martinez and Gracie Vaughn.