No. 1 in baseball, Warriors enjoying ‘good spring’

It’s been a “good spring” for the Lebanon Warriors, in the words of Athletic Director Kraig Hoene.
The baseball team is ranked No. 1 in the state going into the playoffs, and the softball team was No. 4 going into their final Senior Day game on May 20 against league-leader Dallas.

Hoene cautiously predicted at the start of the season that the Warriors could be good this year on the baseball diamond, but “when you’re led by a junior group, you want to see them do it,” he said.
The team, which has 13 juniors on the roster, with four seniors and two sophomores, has done it, rolling to a 14-1 mark in the Mid-Willamette Conference going into its final regular season game, at home on May 20 against Dallas.
Lebanon, which has never won a state baseball title, is led by three “quality” pitchers, which explains why the Warriors have sailed through with a 19-4 record (three of their losses were at a Vero Beach, Fla., tournament against some of the nation’s top high school teams, and at 6A Division Roosevelt). Junior hurlers Tyler Walker, Ryan Rivers and Sam Thompson have been dominant on the mound, often throwing nearly entire games.
“Let’s face it, in high school baseball a quality arm sets you apart and we have three of them,” Hoene said. “We’ve thought that if the offense came around and the young kids produced like we thought they could, we could be good.”
Lebanon has “speed kids” Colton Vandetta and Bryant Starr at the top of the lineup, who create scoring opportunities for the rest of the batting order.
“They have quality at-bats,” Hoene said. “(The opponent’s) starting pitcher is often eight to 10 pitches in before he sees our No. 3.”
Whether this year produces a state title remains to be seen, as the Warriors open the playoffs at home on Wednesday, May 25, against the team that is ranked lowest in the bracket after the May 20 games.
Thus far, they’ve played their “best ball” in their biggest games, Hoene said.
Coach Jeff Stolsig has had some opportunities in the past, but the Warriors have run into strong opponents early and haven’t been able to cash in. This time could be different, Hoene said.
“If not this year, all these kids will be back next year,” he said. “If anyone deserves a good run, it’s Jeff.”

With junior right-hander Alivia Holden in the circle, mowing down opposing batters, Lebanon has cruised to a 13-2 record in the MWC going into its final showdown with Dallas.
The Warriors will also open the playoffs at home on Wednesday, May 25.
It’s been a good year, Hoene said.
“Having Alivia on the mound is huge. Most of the time, she’s throwing to her big sister Trinity behind the dish. And both those girls hit the cover off the ball.”
They’re not the only ones. Sophomore Jannah Jimenez and senior Laurel McGuigan also add some spark at the plate, and the rest of the lineup has been productive as well, he said.
“They’re the ones who get it going, or they’re on base when the (Holden sisters) hit one out,” Hoene said.

In a season that’s been the first normal track year since 2019, Lebanon got six qualifiers in seven events at the MWC championships, held May 11 and 13 at West Albany.
Qualifiers for the boys were senior Caleb Christner in the 200 and 400, senior RJ Kennedy in the 800, senior Brayden Currey in the javelin, and junior Jackson Parrish in the long jump and triple jump. On the girls side, freshman twins Teagen and Taryn Cornell, whose dad Jared was one of the top throwers in the nation in high school and whose grandfather, Bryan Eilers, is throws coach for the Warriors, both qualified in the shot.

The Warriors did not get any players to the final day of the district tournament, but this year was about getting back to normal, “keeping tennis on track,” as Heine put it.
Lebanon was led at districts by seniors Elijah Zderad and Mark Workman, sophomore Ethan Parrish and freshman Eli Weber on the boys side, while junior Katie Long was the top performer for the 28-player girls team, which had numbers but lacked experience, with two seniors.

The Warrior boys missed the state golf tournament as a team, finishing fourth at the district tournament held May 2-3 at Trysting Tree in Corvallis, but freshman Ryland Carrol qualified as an individual, finishing in a tie for sixth at state, shooting 79-74-153 over the two days, May 16-17, at Trysting Tree.
On the girls side, junior A’Kalie Berry just missed, losing a playoff at the district tournament, also at Trysting Tree, for a state berth.
“We finished on a good note on the girls side,” Hoene said.

East Linn Christian
In baseball, the Eagles finished third in the district with a 9-9 record, 11-14 overall, behind Monroe (17-1) and Regis (15-3).
In the district track and field championships, May 13-14 at Kennedy, they qualified athletes in eight events: junior Aidan Morgan in the 100, high hurdles and the triple jump, junior Heath Nichol in the 800, Elliot Nofziger in the high jump, and the 4×100 team of Erik Hatch, Aidan Morgan, Zane Morgan, and Nofziger. On the girls side, freshman Daisy Lalonde qualified in the 1500 and 3000, winning league titles in both.

The Lebanon Explosion dance team girls hold their award for taking fifth place in the OSAA 5A Dance/Drill state competition, held Saturday, March 19, at Oregon City High School. After COVID-19 mandates were lifted, the team was able to resume in-person competitions and perform at Lebanon Warrior football games. During the fall, the Explosion won two first-place, three second-place awards, and one fourth-place award for hip-hop and pom routines. At the Fall Championships, Explosion placed third in its pom routine and sixth in its hip-hop routine. During winter season, the team competed against all other 5A dance teams, performing a contemporary routine to Andra Day’s “Rise Up,” securing themselves at fifth place in State. Senior dancer Syian Phillips was also named a 5A All-State dancer. Dance Coach Megan Phillips wanted to thank the sponsors who helped her team get this far: Faithful Friends Animal Clinic, Pixelchicks Photography, Lebanon Family Dental, Hollywood Studios, NW Fit, Waterloo Collision Auto Repair, Dutch Bros., Wing Ming, Pizza Schmizza Public House, North Santiam Coffee Company, Nick and Rebecca Carter, Kerry Whitlach Farmers Insurance, Star Water Systems, RKI Insurance, Galar Enterprises DBA Carcraft, Grant Scheele Farmers Insurance, and Topline Auto Detail. Contributed Photo