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Softball season ends with first-round exit at State
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The Dawson County Lady Tigers gather at home plate to celebrate a three-run home run from freshman Olivia Martinez in the first round of the 2018 State Softball Tournament Oct. 9. - photo by For the Dawson County News

Under threat from the effects of Hurricane Michael, the first round of the State Softball Tournament was moved up one day and took place in Calhoun on Tuesday, Oct. 9. The Dawson County High School Lady Tigers entered the tournament as the No. 4 team and faced off with the No.1 Calhoun Yellow Jackets in the best-of-three series.

The Lady Tigers came out eager in their first inning at the plate and took several ill-advised swings that resulted in a three strike-out inning for the Calhoun pitcher, sophomore Maggie McBrayer, who built on the momentum of the first-inning to throw a no-hitter over five innings and completely shut down the bats of Dawson County.

Calhoun struck immediately on offense as they capitalized on a walk from Lady Tigers pitcher Maggie Schandera and an error by shortstop Carol Drake to put up two runs in the first inning. A solid second inning that featured a three-run homer off the bat of Yellow Jacket Lyndi Ray Davis brought the score to 5–0 and put Calhoun comfortably in the driver’s seat of game one.

After adding runs in both the third and fourth innings, the Calhoun Yellow Jackets took home game one in the bottom of the fifth inning via the run rule with a final score of 8–0.

The reinvigorated Lady Tigers quickly retired the side on a mere five pitches from Schandera to open the second game of the night.

With the season on the line, the ladies also came to the plate with more energy and mounted a credible threat, moving a runner into scoring position before the Yellow Jackets closed out the inning. The second inning played much the same, as both sides threatened but neither managed to score.

It was in the third inning that the offense of Calhoun came back to life as back-to-back singles combined with a catching error from Tori Martin allowed the Yellow Jackets to break the scoreless tie. Two batters later another three-run homer, this one from Calhoun’s Lona Davis, moved the score to 4–0.

After the Yellow Jackets retired Dawson County in order in the bottom of the third, it appeared that the game had settled into the same pattern as the first game of the night, but the Tigers mustered their strength and returned the favor with a double-play to shut down the Yellow Jackets in the fourth and gave themselves new life.

The bottom of the fourth inning marked the high point of the tournament for the Lady Tigers as they came out of the gate swinging. Singles from Schandera and Bella Henson opened the inning and freshman Olivia Martinez took full advantage of the opportunity as she pounded a monster three-run shot over the wall to bring the Dawson County Tigers within one run.

Unfortunately for the Tigers, a Calhoun pitching change silenced their bats once again, and a collection of errors from across the diamond allowed the Yellow Jackets to immediately extend their lead in the fifth inning.

The game remained within reach for Dawson County until the final inning when Calhoun finally took control of the game with a five-run onslaught to close out the first round with a final score of 11–3 and a clean sweep of the Lady Tigers to end the 2018 softball season.