Dawson County High School Varsity Softball Coach Jimmy Pruett's Lady Tigers team is headed to the state playoffs.
The squad defeated East Hall, last week, in the best of three series for the right to advance.
"We are so excited," said the veteran coach. "Not many people gave us much of a chance all season. Our players just seem to find a way to win."
It wasn't easy for the Lady Tigers.
In the series against East Hall, played at Jack Waldrip Field in Dawsonville, Dawson County split on Monday, losing the first game 6-1.
With their season on the line the Lady Tigers took the second game 7-4.
In the final game on Oct. 6, the loser ended its season.
Trailing 3-0 after three innings the Lady Tigers rallied to take a 5-4 victory and punch their ticket into the state tournament.
On Oct. 7 the team traveled to Homer for the seeding part of the region tournament. Dawson County was matched up with No. 1-seed Banks County and dropped an 8-3 decision relegating them to the consolation game against Fannin County.
You could tell that five games in three days for the exhausted Lady Tigers were a little much. Dawson County battled, but lost 12-10 to the Lady Rebels.
With the loss, Pruett's team will go into the state tournament as the No. 4-seed from Region 7-AAA.
Up next will be reigning state champion Calhoun High School.
The Lady Yellow Jackets come into the game as the No. 1-seed from Region 6-AAA.
Calhoun is sporting a 27-3 record and a No. 3 state ranking.
"Calhoun is very good. But I know our girls will battle and we will give everything we have," Pruett said.
In game one of the series against East Hall the Lady Tigers managed just two hits in the 6-1 loss. Both hits came off the bat of Kaila Billingsley.
Billingsley went 2 for 3 with an RBI. The RBI hit came in the fourth inning and drove in Sydney McGinnis, who had walked.
Maggie Schandera took the loss on the mound.
Schandera pitched a good game, but six Lady Tigerserrors doomed the freshman pitcher.
In the nightcap, Dawson County rallied to take the 7-4 win.
The Lady Tigers scored early to take some of the pressure off.
In the first inning Natalie Glass started the game with a single.
McGinnis sacrificed Glass to second base.
Tabitha Morrison followed with a single that put runners on first and third.
Morrison swiped second base on the next pitch.
Both Glass and Morrison scored on a wild pitch that put Dawson County in front 2-0.
The Lady Tigers never looked back and opened their lead to 4-0 in the second inning.
The offense came alive and pounded out 10 hits, led by Morrison who went 4 for 4 with two doubles, two runs and a RBI.
Also getting hits were Glass, McGinnis, Billingsley, Heather Brady, Brandy Torres and Skylar Caine.
Torres' hit was a double.
Glass got the win after going seven innings while allowing eight hits.
The junior pitcher struck out seven batters, while only walking three.
Glass started the deciding game against the Lady Vikings on Oct. 7.
She was replaced in the third inning after surrendering three home runs to East Hall and was replaced by Schandera.
Schandera came into the contest and shut down the Lady Vikings from Gainesville. She gave up just one run the remainder of the game.
The Lady Tigers answered with a home run of their own off the bat of Morrison in the fifth inning.
Morrison went 2 for 3 with a stolen base and two RBIs.
After trailing 3-0 early the Lady Tigers posted two runs in the fourth to cut the lead to 3-2.
Dawson County passed the Lady Vikings in the fifth inning with two more runs to take a 4-3 advantage.
Another run in the sixth sealed the win.
In the inning, Glass singled with one out and came around to score on a RBI single by Morrison.
The first game against Banks County was over quickly.
The Lady Leopards scored runs in every inning but the fifth to take the 8-3 win.
Banks County held a 5-2 advantage after five innings and coasted to the win.
Dawson County picked up a run in the second inning on an error by the Lady Leopard shortstop that allowed Torres to reach first.
Torres crossed the plate on an RBI walk by Caine.
The Lady Tigers added a run in the fifth inning on a one out single by Schandera.
Heather Brady followed with a single of her own that put runners on first and second.
Torres then doubled to drive in Schandera.
Pruett's team scored its final run after Morrison tripled with one out.
Morrison scored on a RBI single by Schandera.
Once again errors haunted the Lady Tigers.
Dawson County committed seven errors in the loss.
Seven walks and three errors aided Fannin County in the consolation game to come away with a 12-10 win.
Three Dawson County pitchers, Glass, Schandera and Kaylan Richards gave up 11 hits and recorded one strikeout.
The Lady Tiger scored a run, but it wasn't enough in the defeat.
Pruett's team trailed 5-0 going into the bottom of the second inning.
In the bottom of the second, Dawson County scored three times to cut the lead to 5-3.
Billingsley led off the inning with a double.
With one out Heather Brady singled to put runners on first and third.
Torres drove home Billingsley with a fielder's choice.
Caine reached first on an error by the Lady Rebel pitcher.
The big hit came off the bat of Glass as she doubled in Torres and Caine.
The Lady Tigers added three more runs in the fifth inning.
Scoring were Glass, McGinnis and Morrison.
The big hit of the inning was by Katelynn Simpson, who doubled home all three runs.
Trailing 12-7 going into the final frame, Dawson County scored three more times, but it wasn't enough as they fell 12-10.
Dawson County will bring a 10-16 record into the state tournament.
The Lady Tigers travel to Calhoun today to begin a best of three series. The winner will advance to face the winner of the series between Laney (Region 3) and Jackson (Region 2) on Oct. 21 and 22.
Calhoun finished with a 17-3 record in Region 6.
The Lady Yellow Jackets are coached by Diane Smith.
The team is known for its hitting and this year was no exception.
Calhoun pounded out 25 home runs during the regular season. The team has several hitters that Dawson County must account for.
Leading Calhoun will be junior Jana Johns who has a .582 batting average with four homers and 44 RBIs. Johns also boasts 20 doubles.
Calhoun also has three more hitters that batted above .500 in Ashlyn Barnes (.548), Emily Weatherman (.569) and Ryan Brzozski (.553).
Weatherman blasted six homeruns and Brzozski had four homers.
Pitching for the Lady Yellow Jackets will be Kinsey Liscio and Emily Mitchell.
Liscio posted an 11-1 record with an ERA of 1.46. Mitchell is 13-1 with a 1.08 ERA.
Mitchell also has a good bat.
The senior batted .461 with five homeruns and 30 RBIs.
All stats were before the Region 6-AAA tournament last week.
The teams will play a doubleheader in Calhoun at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. today.
If the teams split, Dawson County will travel back to Calhoun for the deciding game on Thursday at a time to be decided.