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Entering Saturday’s six-team tournament at Bakersfield, Seymour head softball coach Glenn Dawson felt his squad had a chance at taking top honors.

He wasn’t wrong.

However, fatigue in the Tigers’ final game and hard luck in the tourney’s second round dealt Dawson’s ballclub a pair of defeats as Seymour finished fourth.

“The narrow loss to Naylor in the second round was a tough defeat, and the girls were just absolutely exhausted in the final game,” Dawson said.

Seymour left the tournament with an 8-11 overall record.

In the first round, the Tigers cruised to a 13-2 decision over host Bakersfield.

Naylor was Seymour’s opponent in the second round of the pool-play, round-robin event, and Dawson said his team was in position to notch a second straight victory.

“We were up 5-4 when the umpires said the final at-bats of the game were coming with Naylor at the plate,” he said.

“Ultimately, they scored their sixth run in that last inning, and we suffered another close loss.”

In the third-place game, Seymour fell 15-1 to Mansfield.

However, Dawson noted that in Saturday’s third and final contest, the Tigers were without injured starters Aubrie Fann and Shay Moore. Above that, freshman Alleigh Warren was pitching her third game of the day because fellow freshman pitcher Hannah Clark wasn’t available.

“That’s a tough load for any kid to handle, much less a freshman in her first season of high-school softball,” Dawson explained. “She was exhausted.”

Seymour was short one of its two starting pitchers after Clark potentially was exposed to the COVID-19 virus and had to stay home because of contact tracing and testing.

“The good news is that Hannah is negative for the virus,” Dawson said.

“The bad news is that we didn’t have her available for the tournament on Saturday.”

Dawson said this week’s forecast for the Tigers is a brighter one.

“Aubrie will be back for (Tuesday’s) game at home versus Springfield Central, Shay will be back for (Thursday’s) home game against (Springfield) Parkview, and Hannah is good to go this week after a negative COVID-19 test,” he said. “We should be at full strength.”

Seymour’s regular-season finale arrives Friday when Walnut Grove visits.

“I feel we can win all three games this week, although getting past Walnut Grove won’t be easy at all, as they’re ranked statewide in Class 1 and have good pitching,” Dawson said. “Central and Parkview are Class 4 schools, but I do feel win can win both of those games if we just execute and play well.”

Once the regular season ends Friday, the Tigers’ next game arrives at the Class 2 District 2 Softball Tournament at Hartville, where Seymour is the sixth seed.

Next Tuesday, Seymour takes on No. 3 Belle in the first round of district play.

Game time is 6 p.m.

“Belle doesn’t have a better record than us, but I know they’ve played a tough Class 2 schedule,” Dawson said.

“They only have 10 players, and like us, I think they only have three seniors. Also like us, they are playing lots of freshmen.”

Should Seymour advance, the Tigers’ likely opponent in the semifinals is second-seeded Dixon.

“I know Dixon is a very solid team with a very good pitcher,” Dawson said.

“Again, like the Belle game, this is a team that we can compete with and defeat.”

The district’s top seed is Iberia.

The Rangers are Missouri’s top-ranked team statewide in Class 2.

“How good are they?” Dawson asked, jokingly.

“Well, they run-ruled a Class 4 Lebanon team. And they are the state’s top team according to the polls. But I feel the path is there for us to reach the (district) finals. We’ll have to play well, but we can get there. Once we get there ... hey, anything can happen.”

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