By Will Willems
After splitting the first two contests of the season, the third and decisive meeting between the Lebanon and Western Boone softball teams had the most riding on it — a berth in the sectional semifinals.
It was the Tigers who came out on top, jumping out to a 12-0 lead midway through the game and holding off Western Boone 12-4.
“It was a tough game,” Lebanon head coach Steve Smith said. “I knew it was going to be a different game than the other two. They can score runs at any time and we have to do a little better job on our mental game too. They are competitors and went after it.”
Western Boone had a chance to jump out to a lead in the bottom of the first inning, loading the bases with one out.
Kelci Johnson then hit a hard liner, but Lebanon second baseman Hannah Dybalski made a nice catch for the second out. Ashlyn Montgomery then got Savannah Bealmear to ground out and end the threat.
“Who knows (how the game would change if we scored there), but that was key,” Western Boone head coach Mike Vanderpool said. “Their second baseman made a really good play. If we could have applied a little pressure and taken a lead there, who knows what happens — it might have been a closer game. But I give all the credit to them. They are a strong team. They have an excellent pitcher and can really hit the ball.”
Smith said that he thought it helped his girls to get out of that jam without allowing a run.
“I think it gave us a little confidence,” Smith said. “When you start off the game that way, you get a little nervous. I gave us some confidence and allowed us to relax and play some ball. That was a good start.”
Lebanon saw its offense come to life in the next half inning.
Madelyn Smith led off the inning with a single and Kendall McCollum reached on an error to put two on with no outs.
After a fielders choice put runners on the corners with one out, Payton Hollis flew out for the second out. Needing just one out to get out of the jam, the Stars’ couldn’t get it.
For more of this story, read Wednesday's Lebanon Reporter.