The team's take
"This was special to me, because it's never been done before. We're the first in Dawson County history, and when we came back, everybody has been so supportive and thanked us and congratulated to us."
- Samantha Keeney
"What I loved about the tournament is that we all got even closes than what we were, and we became even better best friends."
- Emily Hunsucker
"It was a big accomplishment and we were really, really proud. Even though it ended early, we weren't that sad that we didn't win state. We were more sad that we don't get to play together anymore as a team."
- Joy Lewis
"This weekend was great, how we all came together and fought as a whole, as a team. It was pretty fun making history this year."
- Brooke Wende
The Dawson County Lady Tigers returned to Dawsonville with their heads held high, knowing they accomplished a feat that no other fast-pitch softball team in the high school's history had been able to achieve.
The team's season, along with the hope of a state Class AAA title, ended Friday with a 10-0 loss to Central-Carroll in the team's third game of the softball championship tournament in Columbus.
It was Dawson County's first trip to the state playoffs since starting a fast-pitch program in 2001.
"Coming into this year, it was a goal of Coach [Jimmy] Pruett's and a goal of the team's to make it to Columbus," said Joy Lewis, pitcher. "We set that goal for ourselves. At the beginning of the season, we thought that was a really high goal. I don't think anybody thought we were going to do what we did."
Pruett said the team knows how proud he is of them.
"I'm extremely proud of our players," he said. "Nobody really gave us a chance, but we just found a way to win. I wish things would have ended differently, but we lost to a very talented Central team."
Lewis was among seven seniors to play their final high school game Friday.
Lady Tigers Savannah Havenkam, Emily Hunsucker, Samantha Keeney, Anela Melton, Hannah McConnell and Brooke Wende also are set to graduate in May.
"After setting that goal for ourselves, it was a big accomplishment and we were really, really proud," Lewis said. "Even though it ended early, we weren't that sad that we didn't win state. We were more sad that we don't get to play together anymore as a team."
Hunsucker called the experience a dream come true and one that "shocked so many people."
"What I loved about the tournament is that we all got even closer than what we were, and we became even better best friends," she said. "We learned to stick together as a team.
"Like in the Pierce game, we learned we could do anything we wanted to do. It [the tournament] didn't turn out like we wanted it to, but we still made a lot of history and shocked a lot of people."
The tournament kicked off Thursday for the Lady Tigers with a come-from-behind win over Pierce County. Bouncing back from a 4-1 deficit, the team defeated the Lady Bears 5-4 after scoring four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.
"Ladies, that's why you never give up," Hunsucker told her teammates after the win.
Later that night, the team fell 11-1 to Ringgold, before being eliminated from competition with Friday's loss to Central-Carroll.
Playing in their first "Elite Eight" game, the Lady Tigers said they were grateful for the community support they received throughout the season.
"This was special to me, because it's never been done before. We're the first in Dawson County history, and when we came back, everybody has been so supportive and thanked us and congratulated us," Kenney said.
Despite the tournament starting on a Thursday and being played three hours away, the Lady Tigers had a strong contingency of fans wearing maroon "Elite Eight" shirts in the stands.
"These girls don't know what quit is. They have a ton of fight in them, and we're so proud of them," said School Superintendent Damon Gibbs. "The district's excited. They bring a lot of pride back to Dawson County. What a great win."