DAWSONVILLE — Joy Lewis fielded the final out from the pitchers circle and fired the ball over to teammate Brooke Wende at first base.
Lewis then put her hands to her face as tears flowed. The Dawson County Lady Tigers had just defeated Cedartown, 9-2, in Game 3 of their second round postseason series to secure their first-ever spot in the state tournament in Columbus.
“Our main goal was to get to Columbus,” Lewis said. “I feel great. This has been our team goal all season. We came out ready to play today.”
The Lady Tigers (21-5-1) will face Pierce County in the Class AAA state quarterfinals on Thursday.
“We jumped up early on them (Cedartown),” said Lewis, a senior will play at Pennsylvania next season.
Lewis pitched a strong game, giving up only three hits. She also helped herself with her bat, going 2 for 3 with an RBI.
Dawson County split the first two games of the series with the Lady Bulldogs on Wednesday, winning 3-2 in Game 1 before losing the nightcap 6-1.
This will be the Lady Tigers’ first trip to the state quarterfinals since Dawson County began fast pitch play in 2001.
“I’m so happy for these girls,” coach Jimmy Pruett said. “They have worked so hard to get to this point. Our goal was to get to Columbus and now that has come true.
“I thought Joy did a great job on the mound for us. Natalie (Glass), Tabitha (Morrison) and Heather (Brady) really had a good series and all three of them hit the ball today.”
Morrison, Glass and Brady had three hits apiece in the 14-hit attack by Dawson County. Morrison connected on two doubles and drove in a run, while Glass and Brady each had two RBIs.
Dawson County lost the coin flip and had to play as the visitors at Jack Waldrip Field. But the Lady Tigers were ready, scoring four runs in the first inning to take a commanding 4-0 lead. The big hit of the inning was a bases-clearing single to right center by Katelynn Simpson.
“Scoring those four runs early really took the pressure off of us,” Pruett said.
The Lady Tigers added one more run in the third inning, then sealed the game with three runs in the fifth inning on four hits. Heather Brady drove in two of those runs on single to right-center.