The Lebanon High softball team has advanced to the 5A state semifinals after a pair of convincing victories in their first two postseason games.
On Friday night, the host Warriors defeated Ridgeview 10-0 in a five-inning contest. Lebanon opened postseason play with an identical 10-0 victory over Ashland on Wednesday.
Lebanon (24-5) is the No. 3 seed in the 5A bracket. On Tuesday, the Warriors will travel to face No. 2 seed Wilsonville (26-3) for a spot in the championship game.
Senior catcher Trinity Holden at first described the Warriors’ performance in these two games as “unbelievable” but she quickly changed her mind.
“Well it is believable because we’ve known this whole season that we were capable of this. But it’s just the best feeling because we’re finally becoming the team that we’ve been creating this whole season. And now that we’re finally getting to what we’ve been working for it’s absolutely amazing. I couldn’t ask for anything else,” Holden said.
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Lebanon ace Alivia Holden held the Ravens scoreless on Friday, giving up one hit and striking out six with no walks.
After stranding two runners in a scoreless first inning, the Warriors took control of the game by scoring five runs in the second. Jannah Jimenez drove in one run with a sacrifice fly and Alivia Holden had an RBI single. Lebanon also took advantage of four Ridgeview errors in the inning.
The Warriors stretched their lead to 9-0 in the third. MaKayla Padilla, who had a team-high three hits in the contest, doubled and Lebanon scored a run when Trinity Holden drew a bases-loaded walk. Emma Sheets also had a RBI single in that frame.
Once again, Ridgeview miscues played a key role as the Ravens walked two batters, hit a batter and committed an error that inning.
In the fourth inning, Padilla hit a one-out single. Pinch-runner Taylor Thorpe took her place at first and later scored for the Warriors’ final run of the day.
“I’m proud of the kids. The girls are just competing all the time,” said Lebanon coach Mardy Benedict. “We’re trying to build that culture of believing in yourself, and competing all the time, every at-bat, every ball hit to you and knowing that if you do that, if we give our best effort, good things will happen.”
There have not been OSAA state softball playoffs the past two years due to the pandemic. Those cancellations interrupted a streak of five consecutive seasons in which Lebanon made the state tournament. The Warriors reached the title game in 2016 and advanced to the semifinals in 2018.
In order for the Warriors to reach the title game this year, they will have to get past Wilsonville’s star pitcher Maddie Erickson. The Wildcats’ ace has committed to play for Michigan and is also a dangerous hitter.
Erickson is a hard thrower and the Warriors’ task will be to hang in and make her throw strikes.
“We’ve got to be patient. We’ve got to make sure that we’re laying off pitches out of the zone and able to compete in the box. And then not make the game bigger than it is and just play defense like we’ve been doing,” Benedict said. “Liv I know can keep us in any game. She gets even better when she knows the defense is right there behind her. That’s the key, discipline in the box and playing solid defense.”
The other 5A semifinal will pit top-seeded Pendleton against No. 5 seed Dallas. The semifinal winners will play for the title on Saturday, June 4, at Jane Sanders Stadium in Eugene.