Soooooo close – Warriors fall by a run in extra innings to Dallas in state softball final

By Benny Westcott
Lebanon Local

Lebanon’s softball team had lost to Dallas 7-1 and 8-5 during the regular season, but things were looking pretty good for the Warriors against the Dragons going into the bottom of the fifth inning of the 5A state championship game at the University of Oregon on Saturday, June 3.

Lebanon was up 4-0 and senior pitcher Alivia Holden hadn’t allowed a single hit. Forgive Warrior fans if they started fantasizing about a first-ever softball state title.

But back-to-back singles for Dallas sparked a rally which was compounded by a trio of errors by Lebanon in the field. By the time the third out of the inning was finally recorded, Dallas had scored five runs and the 4-0 Lebanon lead became a 5-4 Dallas edge, and the Dragons went on to secure a 6-5 eight-inning victory to win its own first state championship.

Pitcher Alivia Holden prepares to unleash a throw.

“We did not want the big inning because of errors,” Lebanon Head Coach Mardy Benedict said. “If they were going to earn it, we wanted them to earn it, not to give it to them. But that’s part of the game. This game is like that.”

He added: “It’s a huge disappointment, just knowing how close we were and then to not finish. But every one of these girls made some great plays throughout the year to get us here.”

Lebanon struck early with three runs in the top of the first. Holden singled with a hard ground ball to centerfield, scoring senior Christine Berg. The ball was misplayed by the Dragon centerfielder, allowing junior Alexis Mulligan to score as well. Later in the inning, sophomore Genevieve Osburg was hit on the hand with a pitch with the bases loaded, scoring freshman Annastazia Marshall.

The Warriors’ fourth run came in the top of the fourth inning, when Osburg doubled to center field to score freshman Tatum Cole.

In the bottom of the fifth, Dallas had runners on second and third when Mulligan, playing shortstop, misfired on a throw to first. Both Dallas runners scored. Then an error by Berg, playing second base, allowed two more Dallas runs. The Dragons took the lead on a bunt in which Holden and senior third baseman Tori Viellieux collided trying to field it. The error went to Viellieux.

Genevieve Osburg swings the bat.

Now down 5-4, Lebanon answered in the top of the sixth when freshman Tatum Cole singled to right field to score Berg. That 5-5 score would hold through seven innings, forcing extras.

Benedict noted how his team came back to tie the game after the deflating bottom of the fifth inning in which they relinquished the lead.

“I’m super proud of that, and the girls and their grittiness,” he said.

In the bottom of the eighth with two outs, the Dragons had runners on first and third. Junior Clara Woolsey connected for a sharply hit ground ball to shortstop. Mulligan got in front of the ball to block it but failed to field it cleanly as it bounced away from her. The play was deemed an error and the winning run crossed the plate for Dallas.

Pitching the entire game, Holden allowed zero earned runs on six hits while striking out 10 and walking one.

“The tears are falling, but really, I’m just happy to be here,” she said after the game. “It had always been a dream, and I never thought it would be reality, but we turned it into one. I wouldn’t have done it with any other team.

“I love these girls, I love these coaches. If there were one player more or one player less, I don’t think it would be the same.”

Holden said she thought her team left it all on the field.

“Some things just didn’t go our way when we needed them to and we fell behind. When we needed it, we just came up short on cleanliness. We had some errors in the field. We were putting our bats on the ball all the time, but we just needed to keep it clean in the field.”

Genevieve Osburg slides into third.

She said she felt great in the circle. “I was throwing hard,” she noted. “I was throwing my own ballgame. I didn’t care what was happening behind me. I just threw my own game.”

Osburg, who played right field, said, “We started off really strong, and we kind of felt like we had it, and then we just gave up some errors, which really cost us. I think we prepared for the game really well. We maybe should have just taken more of a breath after those errors and calmed down.”

Lebanon committed five errors in the game while Dallas had just one.

Holden’s counterpart in the circle, Dallas junior Kadence Morrison, also pitched a complete game, allowing five earned runs on 10 hits while striking out 12 and walking five.

Osburg led Lebanon with two RBIs on 2-3 hitting. Cole also went 2-3 with an RBI. Mulligan went 2-5.

Focusing on the positives after the game, Benedict said, “Only two teams played today in 5A, and we were one of them. We had to go through a lot of failures, successes and team ups and downs. Through that, we got a chance to play in this game, which is a blessing.”

The second place team in 5A.

The Warriors’ playoff run to reach the final included two home wins, a 6-1 victory over Eagle Point and a 10-2 triumph over Canby. In the semifinals, the Warriors beat a higher ranked Bend team on the road, 4-3.

Lebanon finished the season 21-6.