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SOFTBALL: Solid hitting and a late rally fell just short against West Hall
Sadie Dotson celebrates with teammates after hitting a home run in the seventh inning against West Hall. - photo by Rio White

From the first at-bat of the first inning, the Dawson County softball team put the ball in play and established aggression at the plate in an important region matchup at West Hall on Thursday, Sept. 15.

But a few early missed opportunities came back to haunt the Lady Tigers, with two late scores by Sadie Dotson and Lauren Kurtz proving to come up just short in a 3-2 loss against the Lady Spartans. 

While Dawson’s offensive approach did increase contact rates, it also resulted in some quick outs. Head coach Justin Rickett believes the team needs to find the balance between swinging early and showing patience.

“I felt like we were a little too aggressive early on and didn’t take enough pitches,” Rickett said. “We’ve got to find a way to make better adjustments.”

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A couple opening innings of light contact from the Dawson offense were followed up by stretches of  stronger contact that led to some scoring chances. Despite out-hitting West Hall nine hits to five, the Lady Tigers could not get a run across until the fifth inning. 

Meanwhile, the hosts opened the scoring with an RBI groundout in the first inning before a close-call two-out infield single in the third inning gave way to another RBI hit. 

Even with the score relatively close, the early missed chances put the team in a tougher spot than it could have been.

“We just didn’t do a good job in those situations of hitting the ball where we could score a run,” Rickett said. “We’ll work on that next week and try to get better.”

Later on, Kurtz showed her speed to put Dawson on the board at long last — hitting a line drive that was fumbled by the West Hall left fielder and allowed Kurtz to come all the way around the bases to score.

A third run from the hosts came in the bottom half of the fifth through a throwing error by the Lady Tigers after fielding a bunt.

Soon enough, Dawson had more players on base in the sixth inning. Starting pitcher Layne Bailey helped her own cause with a single before Reese Moore hit a double that was fielded just in time to prevent Bailey from trying to score. 

But the momentum quickly ended after a sharp line drive by Micah Burruss whizzed right into the glove of the third baseman. Two strikeouts after that would end the inning’s efforts. 

One final chance to rally presented itself after a seventh-inning solo home run by Dotson cut the deficit in half.

Dotson — who had three hits on the day and now leads the team with a .364 batting average — watched her arcing missile clang off the scoreboard before she ran into the arms of her teammates at home plate. 

Though the Lady Tigers managed one more hit after that home run, the offense could not complete the comeback.

Dawson will pick back up next week with a trio of games, visiting Pickens on Tuesday, Sept. 20, before hosting Mill Creek on Wednesday and Rabun County on Thursday.