In the 2018 season opener for both varsity and junior varsity teams, the Dawson County High School Lady Tigers softball team took to the diamond at Jack Waldrip Field on Monday for a game against the White County Warriors.
With returning senior Maggie Schandera taking the mound for the Tigers, and a defense that features five players from last year’s roster, expectations were running high among the fans and coaches.
“It feels good to have this many girls back,” said Head Coach Jimmy Pruett. “But this is the first game, and we have to consider nerves a part of that today.”
If any member of the DCHS team was nervous as the Warriors came to bat in the top of the first, it didn’t show as the Tigers quickly gathered up their three outs and ran off the field for their turn at the lumber.
“This is a game of little things,” Pruett said as the team gathered round for the final pep talk at practice last week. “And little things have a way of turning into big things very fast in this game.”
These turned out to be prophetic words as a controversial call by the umpires led to the first run of the game being pulled off the board and the end of the first inning.
Carol Drake, having reached base on a single, stolen second and moved to third on a passed ball, crossed the home plate as the result of a sacrifice fly off the bat of Schandera. As the team celebrated and prepared to continue the inning, there came the call from third base.
“The runner didn’t tag. Runner is out.”
As both pitchers found their grooves the second inning flew by with both teams ending their time at the plate by strikeout.
The top of the third, according to the fans and parents gathered around the stadium, is when “the wheels came off.”
Cobbling together a series of singles and taking advantage of the first of eight errors committed by the Tigers, White County put four runs on the board before a beautiful 5-3-6 double-play involving Drake, Henson and Williams ended the inning.
The Lady Tigers showed the first signs of life in the bottom of the third, putting runners into scoring position, but they were unable to bring them home and left two stranded to end the inning.
As the game moved into the fourth, both pitchers settled down and each team uneventfully retired their side.
Moving into the top of the fifth down by three, the game began to take on a ‘now or never’ tone for both teams, and it showed in what was to be the most exciting inning of the game.
The Warriors opened their half of the inning with a deep double to center field, and quickly brought the runner home on another infield error from the Tigers. One batter, and two more errors later, White County added another run, bringing their total to six on the day.
Once again, it looked like things were getting out of hand, when Left Fielder Brea Crane, after making a running catch on a deep fly ball, unloaded a rifle shot to first base to catch the aggressive runner. Another double play to get the Lady Tigers out of trouble.
After four innings of trying to figure out the pitching of White County’s Reagan Dunagan, the Tigers finally looked to have her number in the bottom of the fifth. With two outs on the board, back to back doubles by Drake and Williams started the scoring, and an RBI single by Schandera added another run before the inning on a pop foul behind third base.
Suddenly, there was a ball-game, with the score standing at 6-3 with Warriors in the lead.
The sixth inning went by quickly as, once again, both pitchers got down to the business of pitching. Three-up, three-down from both sides, and the final inning was set.
A lead off walk set the tone for the inning, and the Warriors took advantage of yet more poor fielding by the home team to pad their lead with four more runs and take a 10 to 3 advantage into to the bottom half of the stanza.
As the Tigers came to bat, it was obvious that the wind had been taken from their sails, the side quickly went down in order, and the season begins with a loss to the White County Warriors by a score of 10 to 3.
“Disappointed, obviously. And I know the girls are disappointed,” Pruett said after the game. “We had a lot of missed opportunities, and our mistakes hurt us.”
With an 0-1 record on the season, the Dawsonville High School Lady Tigers Softball team will look for their first win against Chestatee High at home on Aug. 7.
Also taking the field for their season opener the Dawson County High School Junior Varsity Lady Tigers took on their counterparts from White County.
Carly Lamb and Emily Jordan each pitched one inning of shut out softball and combined to hold White County to three runs overall.
On the offensive side of the line-up, a steady string of singles along with a well-timed double from Laney Taylor, and a deep triple off the bat Rylie Erickson led to the Tigers piling up 14 runs over the course of the game.
Finishing three full innings during the allotted time the final score goes down as Tigers 14 Warriors 3, and the JV Lady Tigers start their season 1 – 0.