By Will Willems Sports Editor
---- — Lebanon — Despite winning their opening game of the state tournament Thursday night, the Lebanon 12U Softball All-Stars knew they could play even better.
They showed that on Friday night. Lebanon played a more complete game than in the opener and defeated State Park Little League (Chesterton) 14-1 to improve to 2-0 in pool play.
“I am really pleased with the way we played,” Lebanon head coach Debbie Redman said. “We really hit the ball and we played solid defense today too. We had great pitching from a couple of young girls who really stepped up today and did their job.”
Lebanon wasted little time getting going in the top of the first inning.
Payton Ray singled and after advancing to second on a wild pitch, scored on a single by Katie McDuffie to make it 1-0. Up stepped Payge Redman, who hit an inside-the-park home run to right center to make it 3-0 in favor of the hosts.
Two batters later, Payten Redman reached third on an error and scored on an RBI-single by Kaitlyn Blevins to make it 4-0. Blevins later scored on a fielders’ choice off the bat of Jenna Weaver.
State Park managed a run in the bottom of the first inning, but that was all they could do to slowdown the Lebanon attack.
McDuffie hit a one-out double to bring up Payge Redman — who hit her second 2-run, inside-the-park home run to make the score 7-1.
Those two girls — along with Ray — were part of a top of the lineup that went 8-for-11 with eight runs scored and 10 RBIs. Redman herself was 4-for-4 with two home runs, a triple, three runs scored and eight RBIs.
“Our total lineup is really strong,” coach Redman said. “But those three girls at the top today really played well. Payge can get this team going. They all want to hit like she does and they all can. They all gave it their all. I am really proud of them.”
After retiring State Park in order in the bottom of the second, Lebanon went back to work.
Sarah Tribby led off the inning with a walk and stole second base. Two batters later, Ray singled her home to make it 9-1.
After McDuffie reached on an error, Payge Redman hit a 2-run triple to make it 11-1. Payten Redman hit a single two batters later to drive in her sister to make it 12-1.
In the fourth, Payge Redman’s 2-run single to score Weaver and Keenon Gibbons capped the scoring.
Gibbons pitched the first two innings, giving up the one run on two hits. She struck out one.
Brooke Dodson pitched the final two innings, allowing no hits and giving up two walks.
Coach Redman liked the way both girls pitched.
“It is going to be big,” Redman said when asked what the game would do for their confidence. “The girls got on the mound today and they were really nervous. They came back and won the ball game. I am really proud of them.”
The other thing that really pleased Redman was the way her team fielded the ball.
After committing three errors and misplaying a couple other balls in Thursday night’s win, Lebanon committed just one error Friday night. Redman said that turn around helped show what kind of girls she has.
“They are all very coachable,” Redman said. “And really, they are just a great group of kids. They all want to learn, they take in what we tell them and we change things — that is the big difference.”
Lebanon is back in action tonight at 6 p.m. against Hebron — a team that has been out-scored 48-1 in their first two games. Lebanon will then complete pool play Sunday night against Zionsville, who has won each of their first two games by double-digits.
Redman said despite the other team’s struggles she wants her team to play their best.
“I have always told our girls that at this level, even when we are playing a team that may not be up to par, we aren’t going to let up,” Redman said. “If we can score 30 runs, we are going to score 30 runs. I am not going to have them play down because the other team isn’t as good as we are used to seeing.”
Redman said the keys to the weekend will be playing like they did Friday night.
“We have to come out and pitch,” she said. “(Gibbons and Dodson) have a couple of innings under their belt and I am hoping to use them. We have to continue to hit the ball and play defense like we did today because we really played solid defense today — which was great to see because we had a couple of errors yesterday. I couldn’t ask for anything else.”