PHOTOS BY AMBER DOTY
Dalton’s Alexis Vazquez
Dalton’s Ava Fivecoat
By ARIEL STAHLER
Gazette & News sports writer
The 2023 season came to an end for Dalton High School’s varsity softball team in the district final when the Lady Dawgs fell to Mogadore. Even though the tournament run ended sooner than the team wanted, head coach Zach McFarren remained positive about the success of the season.
“The season was a success if one looks at the entire process,” said McFarren. “The 10-game win streak that the girls opened on built the confidence needed for a rough second half of the season. The final 11 games were a challenge and the girls answered the bell each time. The Hillsdales and Northwesterns and Norwaynes are established programs and while we struggled at times with them, we also played right with them and showed what we are capable of. Those teams also prepared us for the tournament. The girls improved with each game. In the end, that’s the main goal.”
Dalton, which was the No. 2 seed, first took on No. 3 Independence in the Division IV Northeast 3 district semifinal May 15. The Lady Dawgs won 7-6. Independence appeared to be in control when they scored six runs in the top of the first inning. However, Dalton would hold them scoreless for the remainder of the game. The
Lady Dawgs scored one run in the bottom of the first inning. Dalton went to work in the fourth inning to tie the game with five runs. Skylar McConnel and Sydney Geiser had back-to-back RBI singles, followed by a 2-run double from Josslyn Reynolds. Ava Nussbaum wrapped up the scoring parade with an RBI single to even the score. Nussbaum’s contribution to the team did not end there. With the score tied in the bottom of the eighth, Dalton had two runners on base with two outs when Nussbaum came to the plate.
She smacked a single to centerfield to give the Lady Dawgs the walk-off win. Pitcher Ava Fivecoat gave up six runs on nine hits, issued four walks and struck out nine batters during her complete game.
Dalton was defeated by No. 1 Mogadore 11-1 in the district final game May 17 to finish the season district runner-up. The Lady Dawgs scored one run on an error in the top of the first inning and Mogadore responded in the bottom of the inning with a run of their own to tie the score. They added four runs in the second inning and six in the third to complete the victory.
Fivecoat gave up 11 runs on four hits, issued three walks and struck out three hitters. McFarren said the experiences of this season will serve as a stepping stone for future success.
“Looking forward, improvement will be seen in the time that the girls put in during the offseason,” said McFarren. “We will need more consistency in at-bats and in the fundamentals of defense. The ladies made great strides in those areas this year and next year we will need to take another step forward. That starts this summer. The seniors created a positive atmosphere that made coaching excessively enjoyable. They led selflessly and played the game hard. They established a foundation that the ladies can build upon in the years to come.”