It was a festive atmosphere at Lanier Point Softball Complex in Gainesville. There was a huge crowd on hand to see local teams open the 2011 softball season.
Teams from all over the area competed Aug. 13 in the 10th Annual Lanier Point Invitational.
White County, state AAA champion, Blessed Trinity, Union County, Rabun County, Habersham Central and Wesleyan were just some of the teams that took part in the event.
The tournament started Friday afternoon.
Sixteen teams played and the Dawson County Lady Tigers showed that they are a team to fear this season.
Head Coach Jimmy Pruett and his players finished with a 5-1 record and a third place finish in the top division at the tournament.
The team suffered its only loss to Region 8-AA rival, Union County, 2-0 in the semi-final game late Saturday afternoon.
With the loss, Dawson played White County for third place later that evening. The Lady Tigers came away with a 7-6 win over the defending state champions.
"Against Union we just couldn't put the ball in play," Pruett said. "They [Union] did put the ball in play and we made some costly mistakes in the field and it cost us the game. But you got to hand it to Union, their pitcher is really good."
Pruett was referring to senior Angie Hughes for the Lady Panthers. Hughes stymied the Lady Tigers, and allowed Dawson County only one hit, that was off the bat of left fielder Kristi Hyams in the first inning.
At one point in the game, Hughes had six straight strike outs.
Facing Hughes in the semi-final game was Lady Tigers star pitcher Jenna Abbott.
Abbott also pitched a great game. She collected six strikeouts and allowed only four hits to Union County.
Union scored both of its runs in the third inning on two singles and a double. The double occurred on a misjudged fly ball to left field.
The Lady Panthers went on to take the Gold Division title with a 7-0 shutout of East Hall.
The Lady Tigers started the tournament on Friday with two big wins over Chestatee, 8-0, and Rabun County, 8-0.
Abbott pitched the Chestatee opening game and nearly had a perfect game. She allowed only two base runners, a walk and an error, in six innings to pick up the win.
Abbott fanned 14 batters in the win.
Offensively, the Lady Tigers picked up eight hits.
The Lady Tigers were led by Morgan Huber with two singles and two runs, Abbott with two singles and Hyams with a single and a double.
Several players contributed at the plate against Rabun County later that evening. The Lady Tigers bats exploded for 13 hits against the Lady Wildcats from Tiger.
Samantha Moulder led Dawson with three singles and a run. Carly Gilreath, Kimberly Wallace, Huber and Hyams all had multiple hits against Rabun County.
Picking up a varsity shutout was sophomore Martie Rogers. Rogers allowed only three hits to Rabun and picked up six strikeouts.
Dawson started Saturday morning just where the team left off Friday night.
The Lady Tigers scored five runs in the fifth inning to pull away from Habersham Central and pick up a 6-1 victory.
Once again the bats were alive. The team collected seven hits in the contest against the Lady Raiders.
Moulder led the attack with two singles for the Lady Tigers.
Wallace, Abbott, Gracie Hovan, Natalie Burt and Rogers also singled in the contest.
In the first round of tournament play, the Lady Tigers were matched up with a traditionally tough Gilmer County team. Dawson came away with a 2-0 win after a long homer by Abbott in the sixth inning. Both Huber, who reached on an error, and Abbott crossed the plate.
Dawson managed only two hits in the contest. The other was by Huber in the fourth inning, but it was enough to propel them into the semi-finals.
Rogers once again picked up the win. She allowed four hits, while striking out four.
The Lady Tigers will be back in action this week after a much-needed three day rest.
Dawson will travel to Dahlonega today for a 5:55 p.m. game against Lumpkin County.