By Will Willems
Lebanon — The Lebanon 12U Softball All-Stars advanced to the state championship game Tuesday night.
The Tigers won a close 1-0 decision of Don Ayres Times Corner (Fort Wayne) in the semifinals Tuesday afternoon.
"It feels great," Lebanon head coach Debbie Redman said. "These girls have earned it. It is just a great feeling."
Unlike when the two teams met in pool play, when Lebanon won 12-9, this game was a pitchers' duel from the beginning.
Don Ayres managed just two hits in the game, both singles that didn't get out of the infield.
Lebanon managed five hits, with Payton Ray and Payten Redman each hitting two. The other came on a single by Kaitlyn Blevins.
Lebanon used their speed to score the game's lone run.
Back-to-back two-out singles by Redman and Blevins put runners on second and third in the fourth inning.
Taylor Wagoner showed bunt, and with the corners charging in, Redman stole third. The Don Ayres catcher threw to third but no one was on the bag and the throw went into left field, allowing Redman to score.
"Our hustle was the difference," coach Redman said. "Like I have been saying all tournament, thank goodness for fast girls. That won us the ballgame today."
It was the first time all tournament that Lebanon had to play a low tight scoring game.
They will play defending state and region champion Riverfield at 5 p.m. Tuesday for the state title.
Redman was happy the girls won a close game, but there was a small downside.
"It is good to win like that, but we had to burn our No. 1 pitcher (Payten Redman)," the coach said. "But I have faith in our younger girls. I think they are going to give it their all next game. I think it is going to be a great game. Win or lose, I am so proud of these girls."