Approaching the mid-point of the season, the Dawson County Tigers softball team played host to the Fannin County High School Rebels Aug. 28 at Jack Waldrip Field, winning a nail-biting pitcher’s duel by the final score of 3-2.
Senior pitcher Maggie Schandera once again took to the circle for the Tigers in her 10th appearance. Driving her fastball down the center of the plate, Schandera immediately challenged the Rebels at the plate and forced a quick three-and-out, retiring the side.
Pitching in her first start of the season, Fannin County’s Amelia Sneed faced the Tigers’ lead-off batter Carol Drake who immediately put the first pitch of the game on a rope to left field for her first hit of the night. Stealing her ninth base of the season, Drake advanced to second on the next pitch and the Tigers were in a great position to start the game.
A routine grounder for the first out of the inning advanced Drake to third, but then Sneed settled down at the rubber and struck out Schandera to take the pressure off the Rebels. Another grounder and the inning closed with no runs tallied.
The second inning started well for the Rebels with back-to-back singles but, once again driving her fastball down the middle, Schandera dropped the next three batters recording a strike out in the process. In return, Sneed, nabbing two strike-outs of her own, retired the Tigers in order, keeping the game scoreless after two innings.
The Tigers put on a quick but solid defensive display in their half of the third by collecting sharply hit balls from all over the in-field. Plays from first, third and shortstop once again put the Rebels to bed and the Tigers took their turn at the plate.
A pop-out from the Tigers started the inning and it looked as if Sneed’s pitching was going to once again make quick work of Dawson County, but, showing great patience at the plate, senior Mary Farris drew a walk and took her place at first base. A double from Drake moved them both into scoring position, and Brandi Williams quickly drove them home picking up RBIs seven and eight on the season.
“Some players just thrive when they are in a position to drive in runs,” Head Coach Jimmy Pruett said. “They want to be there.”
After a blistering infield single from Schandera, the Rebels rallied to end the inning with two ground ball outs and they entered the fourth, down by 2.
Swinging hard the ladies from Fannin loaded the bases on three singles in a row to open the fourth inning. A slow grounder in front of the plate allowed the Tigers to stop the runner at the plate for the first out of the inning but they were still in trouble as the bases remained loaded. The next batter for the Rebels popped out to deep center allowing their first run to cross the plate.
A passed ball, the only error of the game for the Tigers, brought another run across the plate for the Rebels and the game was tied at 2, but a grounder came off the following pitch and the inning came to a close with no further damage.
The Rebels defense showed its merit in the bottom of the fourth, picking a runner off second and keeping the game close as they keep the Tigers from breaking the tie. Returning the favor during the beginning of the fifth inning the Lady Tigers defense, along with another strike-out from Schandera, sent the Rebels back into their dug-out with no runs for their efforts.
Standing in at the plate for her third at-bat of the game, Drake continued to demonstrate her ability to reach base by drawing a walk to reach base for the third time in the game. After the Rebels collected an out, and Schandera found her way to first via a walk, Tori Martin came to the plate for the Tigers with runners on first and second base.
Drake stole third on a first strike pitch to Martin, and then raced toward home as Martin drove the ball toward Fannin County’s shortstop Macy Galloway. Opting for the second out of the inning Galloway threw the ball to first allowing Drake to score giving the Tigers the lead by a slim 3-2 lead. Again, rallying around their defense, the Rebels dusted themselves off and closed out the inning without giving up any further runs leaving themselves a chance to come-back in the late innings.
The remainder of the game featured the Lady Tigers at their finest. A combination of hard pitching and solid defense shut down a determined Rebels team over the next two innings that put the ball into play on almost every pitch. Retiring the final six batters with a total of only 11 pitches the Tigers held onto their one run lead and closed out the win.
The Tigers played the Union County Panthers Sept. 4 at home but results were unavailable as of press time.