With the season on the line, Dade County's hitters wasted little time in taking control early in both games of Wednesday's GHSA Class AA state softball tournament first round.
The Lady Wolverines scored at least two runs in the first inning of both games, and junior pitcher Madison Gossett made sure to shut the door on the Lovett bats. Dade County won the first game in the series 3-0, then clobbered Lovett 12-2 to take the series and advance to next week's second round.
"It gave me a lot of confidence to know we got those early runs and I could pitch with the lead," said Gossett, who followed her two-hitter in the first game by allowing three hits in the final. "Just to look up at the scoreboard and see us ahead was a big lift for me in the first game.
"I think we got our timing down and really hit the ball a lot better in the second game. We got the momentum early, and that helped."
Dade grabbed the momentum in the first game by scoring all its runs in the first two innings with two outs. With the bases loaded, Carri Pierce lined a two-run single to score Gossett and Summer Stevens, and in the second, again with two out, Hailey Gass's single brought in a run. Gossett struck out 10 and walked three, not allowing a Lovett baserunner past first until the fifth inning.
After scoring three first-inning runs in the second game, Dade County began pulling away when Madison Lacy led off the third with a home run. The Lady Wolverines then struck for four in the fourth, highlighted by Carly Stephens' homer, and four again in the sixth for the six-inning mercy-rule win. Seven players scored or drove in runs in the second game.
"We figured out how to sit back and wait for something good to hit in the second game and everybody contributed," Dade coach Christine Core said. "We've stressed playing error-free ball this time of year, and we made it through both games without making an error. It helps a lot to make the plays on defense, hit the ball the way we did and have Madison throwing it as well as she did."