It’s been a tough start to the 2022 season for the Dawson County softball team, but head coach Justin Rickett maintains that his group is making strides toward earning their first victory of the season.
The Lady Tigers began their Region 7-3A competition last week, visiting West Hall on Tuesday, Aug. 23, before hosting Pickens County on Thursday.
Falling short 6-4 and 8-5, respectively, the close defeats saw improved hitting and contrasted from some of the wider margins seen earlier in the season.
“I’m super proud of the way we competed; we’re closing the gap,” Rickett said. “We made some mistakes but we didn’t let those mistakes turn into really big innings. I consider that learning and growing and us getting better.”
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After scoring a combined six runs in their first seven games, the team broke out for 13 runs against Union County on Aug. 20 and have continued to use the offense to stay competitive.
Now, the team will be focused on minimizing errors and improving pitching consistency to get themselves into the win column.
Ricketts believes that the team’s resiliency helped them keep both of the opening region games within reach.
“I thought we did a great job of putting pressure on them offensively and giving us a chance,” Rickett said. “If we keep doing that, at some point we’ll put up a crooked number and take care of business.”
Junior Layne Bailey made important contributions on the mound and at the plate in both games.
Against White County, she threw nine strikeouts and gave up only two earned runs. Offensively, she garnered three hits and three runs batted in.
Bailey knocked another three hits in the game against Pickens, helping the Lady Tigers hold a lead as far as the fourth inning. She would pitch another complete game against the Lady Dragons, with four strikeouts and three earned runs.
Also contributing offensively were the trio of Elise Pritchett, Bryce Greenwood and Sadie Dotson, who combined for eight hits across the two games.
For Rickett, one area he says he is most impressed with is the team’s attitude considering the circumstances so far this season. With the players maintaining vocal encouragement toward each other during games, they are headed in the right direction.
“They’ve supported each other tremendously,” Rickett said. “It’s great to see and that’s what it takes. There’s no player that’s not important.”
The Lady Tigers will play a pair of games this week, visiting Sonoraville on Monday, Aug. 29 at 5 p.m. before returning home to face Gilmer County on Thursday at 5 p.m.
“It’s tough to be on the bad end of all the stuff that we’re on and I’m just proud of our kids for showing up every day and working hard,” Rickett said. “We’re going to get there.”