By Will Willems Sports Editor
---- — Lebanon — The Lebanon 12U Softball All-Stars accomplished the second-part of a three-part goal Sunday in their final pool play game at the state tournament — finish pool play undefeated.
An 11-1, five-inning victory against Zionsville assured Lebanon a 4-0 pool play record and the top seed in the semifinals starting today at 2 p.m. at the Lebanon Little League fields.
“It was the goal to go 4-0 in pool play,” Lebanon head coach Debbie Redman said. “The girls played awesome tonight; I really liked what I saw. They played as a team. We had great pitching, great defense, great hitting and baserunning.”
Zionsville came into the contest with an identical 3-0 record and had outscored opponents 58-4 in their prior three games.
Early on it was obvious that Lebanon was not like the previous three teams.
After putting the Eagles down in order in the top of the first, Lebanon scored three runs in the bottom of the opening frame.
Payton Ray singled to lead off the inning and immediately stole second. Katie McDuffie singled her home to make it 1-0 in favor of Lebanon.
After walks to Payge Redman and Brooke Dodson loaded the bases, a fielders’ choice off the bat of Payten Redman made it 2-0. Dodson later scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-0.
After sweeping West Lafayette in two games to win the District 3 title, coach Redman said she thought her team still had work to do. She said Sunday that she sees her team continuing to get better every game.
“This was our best game so far,” Redman said. “Everyone did what they were supposed to do, and I am just really pleased.”
Neither team scored in the second, but Zionsville was able to cut into the deficit in the third. Dani Deuschle got Zionsville’s first hit of the game to lead off the third.
After stealing second and third, she scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-1.
The visitors looked like they had more brewing in the inning. Jessie Reid reached on a dropped third strike and Sarah Schein walked to put runners on the corners for No. 3 hitter Lucy Garrett.
Garrett made good contact, but her line drive was caught by McDuffie at second base, and Lebanon doubled off Schein to end the inning.
That was the only threat against Payten Redman in the circle, who didn’t allow a base runner in the final two innings.
She finished with 12 strikeouts, including four in the second inning, and allowed only one hit.
“She was hitting her spots,” coach Redman said. “She was throwing her fastball really well and her drop ball pretty well too. She wasn’t letting her emotions get to her, which was a great thing to see.”
Lebanon left two runners on without scoring in the third inning, but started to pull away in the fourth.
Trinity Hancock led off the fourth with a walk and moved to second on a wild pitch. Two batters later, Ray reached on an infield single and both runners stole a base to put runners on second and third.
McDuffie then reached on an error that allowed both runners to score and make it 5-1.
The fifth inning saw Zionsville shoot themselves in the foot. Payten Redman led off the inning with a flyball to left field that was dropped for an error.
Redman stole second and third before scoring on a wild pitch to make it 6-1.
The next two Lebanon girls struck out, but Livi Ward was hit by a pitch to keep the inning going.
Lizzie Kincaid walked and after both runners advanced, Ray reached on an error that allowed two runs to score.
McDuffie singled to put runners on the corners for Payge Redman, who tripled home the two runners and made it 10-1.
Redman then scored on a wild pitch to end the game via the 10-run rule.
Coach Redman said that it was nice to beat a county rival.
“Just to get a win at home was big too,” she said. “A lot of our girls are friends with the girls from Zionsville, so they can have a few bragging rights.”
After playing two lesser teams in their second and third games of the tournament, Redman said she was happy with the way her team ended pool play.
Especially after beating Hebron 10-0 Saturday with a “subpar” effort.
“We had a little talk after last night’s game,” Redman said “I think they went into that game knowing they were going to win, and we got a little lazy. We won, but I wasn’t pleased with how we won it. We had a little heart-to-heart before this game, and they stepped it up and did a nice job.”
Lebanon will play Don Ayres Times Corner in the semifinals today. Lebanon defeated them 12-9 Thursday.
If they win the game, they will play for the championship at 5 p.m.
“We have to be aggressive on the bases and get our bunts down,” Redman said. “We have to play some small ball. A lot of these girls aren’t used to having to charge a bunt. We have some quick, speedy girls and we just have to get our bunts down and run the bases well.”