clear
Wednesday May 6th, 2015 9:45AM

Softball: Lanier Pointe Invitational again opens season

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter
GAINESVILLE -- It was 10 years ago that the Lanier Pointe Invitational Softball tournament changed its format as an attempt to attract some of the state's best teams to one of the best facilities in Georgia.

Little did organizers know that a decade later the two-day fastpitch tournament would become one of the premier events to open every season.

The 11th annual tournament will kick-off the 2013 season Friday at the Lanier Pointe Softball complex with one of the deepest fields in recent memory.

Nearly two dozen teams, 21 to be exact, which is the largest field since the tournament switched to a fastpitch format in 2003, will begin play at 6:15 p.m.

Hank Heffner of the Gainesville Parks and Recreation Department said it has been a tournament that has continued to grow in size and stature.

"It started as a slow-pitch tournament but we switched to fastpitch and it really began to take off," he said. "I think it's one of the premier tournaments in the state."

Defending champion Dawson County returns to defend its title, as does 2011 champion Union County, which finished second last year.

Local teams East Hall, Gainesville, Flowery Branch, West Hall, Chestatee, Johnson, and North Hall all will be participating. Rabun County, Banks County, Commerce, Fannin County, Duluth, Johns Creek, Norcross, Dunwoody, Lanier, East Jackson, Habersham Central, and Gilmer round out the field.

Dawson County coach Jim Pruett said opening the season at Lanier Pointe is a great way to see where you are, and where you may need to go. They rode the momentum of winning the tournament to a Sweet 16 appearance in the Class AAA state playoffs.

"We've always enjoyed playing the tournament but each year offers you different challenges and gives different answers," Pruett said. "Last year we knew we had a team that could win it and we were trying to make sure we had the right people in the right spots. Winning the tournament really gave us a lot of confidence for the rest of the season.

"This year, we're a pretty young team and we're going into the tournament to see what we have and where we need to improve. We'll know a lot more about ourselves no matter what happens."

The Lady Tigers lost 2012 Class AAA Pitcher of the Year Jenna Abbott to graduation and will be looking to see who steps up to fill her shoes.

The tournament will have a round-robin format for the first three rounds followed by double-elimination bracket in gold and silver brackets, which will begin Saturday afternoon. The top two teams in each pool group will advance to the gold bracket.
© Copyright 2015 AccessNorthGa.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Bartus, Icemen shuts out Gwinnett
Garrett Bartus pitched a 42 save shutout, as the Evansville IceMen topped the Gwinnett Gladiators on a New year
10:23PM ( 1 year ago )
Gator Bowl Preview Capsule
A rematch of last year's Capital One Bowl, which Georgia won 45-31 in Orlando.
8:52PM ( 1 year ago )
Millsap's 34 leads Hawks past Celtics
Paul Millsap had season highs with 34 points and 15 rebounds as the Hawks rallied from an 18-point deficit for a 92-91 win over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday afternoon.
7:44PM ( 1 year ago )
Sports
Big Red Shootout: Buford foils Lady Elephants' upset bid in finale
Buford junior Camille Anderson knows to forget about the past during games.
11:09PM ( 1 year ago )
Boys basketball: Knights rebound with win over Centennial
The Johnson boys bounced back after a loss to Grayson on Friday with a 94-72 win Saturday night over Centennial in the Duluth Jingle Jam.
10:43PM ( 1 year ago )
Girls basketball: Dawson falls in Battle of States finals
Dawson County fell behind early and could not complete the comeback in a 70-65 loss to Hayesville, N.C. in the championship game of The Battle of the States Tournament Saturday night.
10:38PM ( 1 year ago )
High School Sports
Girls soccer: Lady War Eagles make history, storm into first ever quarterfinals
Mark Dunn keeps watching his retirement drift further and further away. And the Chestatee girls soccer coach is just fine with that...
2:07PM ( 4 hours from now )
Girls soccer: Lady Wolves roll into 3rd round; St. Pius up next (VIDEO)
Buford girls soccer coach Crystal Fowler wanted to see some variety from her offense Tuesday in the second round of the Class AAAA state playoffs...
12:45PM ( 2 hours from now )
Baseball: Area teams head to 2nd round with momentum
Area teams caught some big breaks, others made their own, and one, Jackson County, made history in the first round of the state baseball playoffs...
12:31PM ( 2 hours from now )
Hawks fight back, knot up series with Wizards, 1-1
DeMarre Carroll scored 22 points, Kyle Korver bounced back from a miserable first half and the top-seeded Atlanta Hawks held off the Washington Wizards 106-90 on Tuesday night, taking advantage of John Wall's absence to even the Eastern Conference semifinals at one game apiece.
10:40AM ( 54 minutes from now )
LaMance victorious in Lavonia FASTRAK Pro Late Models
Steve “Hot Rod” LaMance got the month of May off to a strong start Friday night. The veteran dirt Late Model pilot drove to the lead in the FASTRAK Pro Late Model feature at Lavonia Speedway in Lavonia, GA, and went on to score the victory.
8:00AM ( 1 hour ago )