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Softball team on three-game skid
Regional play looms large
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Short stop Carol Drake makes a diving stop against Union County Sept. 4. - photo by Bob Christian


As the result of a re-scheduled rain-out versus Greater Atlanta Christian, the Dawson County Lady Tigers softball team found themselves playing three games over the week starting Sept. 3 and traveling a demanding schedule for two of them.

The Lady Tigers started the week by hosting the Union County Panthers in a non-regional contest on the diamond of Jack Waldrip Field at Dawson County High School on Sept. 4, and both teams quickly put up one run each via solid, fundamental softball in the first inning. 


The crowd settled in for a good game and was quickly rewarded as both pitchers, senior Maggie Schandera for the Tigers, and newcomer T. Queen of the Panthers, made quick work of their duties gathering up three outs while recording one strike-out each.

After their lead-off hitter managed a single to start the top of the third, Union County started the process of pushing the runner around the bases by laying a beautiful bunt down the line that was mishandled by third-baseman Brandi Williams. In her effort to recover from the error and salvage the out, Williams overshot the throw to first that led to a series of throwing and fielding errors that ended with one run scored by the Panthers and the original batter safe at third base. 

Capitalizing on the Tigers' confusion the next batter put a double into deep center driving in the Panthers third run of the game, but the hit seemed to settle the Tigers down and they retired the remaining batters with solid defensive play.

Looking to return the favor, senior Carol Drake led off the Tigers’ turn in the third with a single of her own and was quickly moved to second base with a sacrifice bunt from Williams. Coming to the plate in support of her own cause, Schandera added another RBI to her season total of 13 by driving a sharp single into left field. The Lady Panthers proved quicker to settle down and they retired the next two batters to exit the third inning and maintain their lead at 3–2.

Taking to the field in the fourth inning it became clear that the Tigers were still shaken by the series of errors from the previous inning as once again a combination of errors and a mishandled bunt, this one along the first base line, allowed the Panthers to score two un-earned runs and put them in a position to grab a third run in the inning on a sacrifice fly.

As the inning closed the Panthers had extended their lead to 6–2 and the wind had visibly left the sails of the Lady Tigers.

Although the Tigers managed to put runners into scoring position in both the fifth and sixth innings, they were unable to break through the defense of the Panthers to bring the runners across home plate. The Panthers managed to add one run each in their halves of the inning and as Dawson County faced their last at bat of the night they were down by the score of 8 to 2.

Continuing her sensational evening at the plate, Schandera connected for her fourth single of the game to put her at 4 for 4 on the night with one RBI. Her efforts sparked a brief rally that resulted in two runs for the Tigers, but after bringing in a relief pitcher, the Panthers quickly shut it down and closed out the game with an 8–4 victory.

“Its frustrating, we’re usually pretty good at fielding bunts, but tonight it got us,” said Head Coach Jimmy Pruett. “We just need to clean it up a little bit.”

Travelling to Norcross for their re-scheduled game against Greater Atlanta Christian on Sept. 5, the Lady Tigers ran into the hot bats of the Spartans and a season best performance from GAC pitcher Faith Alton, who posted her first win of the season with a 4 hit, complete game shut-out of Dawson County.

 

The Spartans opened the game by driving the ball all over the park and jumped out to a four-run lead in the first inning of play. After that initial frenzied scoring, the Spartans added a fifth run in the second inning, but Schandera, on the mound again for the Tigers, settled down and turned in a solid middle game performance to keep her team in the hunt. Unfortunately, the Tigers’ bats remained silent.

Greater Atlanta Christian put the lid on the game with two more runs in the fifth inning and Alton finished out her day’s work by shutting down Dawson County over the last two innings to put the game in the books with a final score of GAC 7 and DC 0.

The Tigers played another away game on Sept. 6. Their opponent this time was the regional powerhouse East Hall Vikings and the Vikings quickly demonstrated why they are undefeated in regional play.

Putting up nine runs on 11 hits the Vikings cruised out to an early two to nothing lead by the end of the second. The Tigers fought back, briefly, in the third by pushing across a run of their own but the Vikings offense proved overwhelming as they continued to add runs to their lead with three in the third, another in the fifth, and three more to close out the game in the sixth and send the Tigers back to Dawsonville with their third loss of the week by a score of 9–1.

“I couldn’t be more proud of how they played,” Pruett said. “They don’t quit.’”

With seven games remaining on the season, five of those regional games, the Dawson County Lady Tigers return to their home diamond to face the Lumpkin County Indians on Sept. 11 with the knowledge that as the season draws to a close each game becomes more important.