LEBANON — All signs point to a Lebanon High softball team that is putting the pieces together early in the season.
The Warriors took advantage of what they were given Wednesday and gave Crook County few opportunities, grabbing a 10-0, six-inning home win to improve to 6-1 and claim the third run-rule victory in the last four games.
A slow start to the season offensively has largely been corrected and Lebanon is building off experienced gained in 2021, when the team went 7-9 overall and 4-5 in Mid-Willamette Conference play.
“I’ve never been so confident in a team,” Warriors junior Alivia Holden said. “There’s so much chemistry, so much competition. We all know our jobs and we’re getting it done.”
Lebanon displayed its offense Tuesday with a 13-2 win against Scappoose that featured home runs by Holden and Jannah Jimenez.
On Wednesday, the Warriors had just four hits — by Laurel McGuigan, Trinity Holden (Alivia’s sister), Alexis Mulligan and MaKayla Padilla — but also got runners on the bags and into scoring position with aggressive baserunning and some Crook County mistakes.
People are also reading…
Lebanon scored six runs before recording its first hit — a Mulligan single to lead off the third inning — thanks to plenty of help from the Cowgirls (3-3) with six walks, two wild pitches, two passed balls, two errors and a hit batter.
Crook County starting pitcher Tylee Cossitt didn’t make it out of the first after walking five of the six batters she faced. Emma Sheets hit a run-scoring sacrifice fly to center to make it 5-0. Mulligan also had a RBI on a bases-loaded walk.
The Warriors tacked on one more in the second with more help and another in the third on a second Sheets sacrifice fly to score Mulligan. Lebanon made it 8-0 in the fifth on a Padilla two-out double to center (the only extra-base hit of the game), a wild pitch and a fielding error.
In the sixth, McGuigan had an infield single, advanced on two walks and stole home. A throwing error on a pickoff attempt at third base allowed one more to score and end the game on the 10-run rule.
But through it all, Alivia Holden was on her game in the circle. The right-hander allowed just two hits and no walks and struck out seven.
The Cowgirls, of Prineville, got a runner as far as second base just twice. The visitors’ final baserunner came in the fifth on the Warriors’ lone error of the game while trying to field a grounder by the leadoff batter. But Alivia Holden struck out the next batter and drew a grounder to second base that Lebanon turned into a double play.
“Liv came out and did what she has to do and shut them down, and the defense behind made plays,” Warriors coach Mardy Benedict said.
Gallery: Lebanon vs Crook County softball
Benedict says his team’s biggest improvement from last season has come defensively.
The 2021 senior-less squad would make what the coach calls “confidence errors,” and one would snowball into another. This spring, Benedict said, the players’ confidence and belief in themselves is stronger and they don’t dwell on miscues.
The improvement has helped Alivia Holden in the circle as well.
“Being a pitcher, it’s a lot of mental and not a whole lot of physical,” she said. “With the team behind me, knowing they can field it, I feel comfortable putting the ball where it needs to be and I’m not worried about forcing it through the zone.”
Lebanon continues its season Friday at Sherwood. The Warriors open Mid-Willamette play April 13 at home against South Albany.
Jesse Sowa can be reached via email at [email protected] or on Twitter, @JesseSowaGT.