AKRON, Ohio -- The last time Lebanon High School’s softball team was denied in the Division I state championship game in 2015, the end came on a walkoff home run.
That was gut-wrenching. Saturday was worse.
One out away from their first state title, the top-ranked Warriors gave up two unearned runs on a wild game-ending play as Elyria pulled off a stunning 4-3 victory at Firestone Stadium.
The Pioneers were down 3-2 and had runners on first (Macy Taylor) and second (April Howser) when Madison Cruzado slapped a two-out grounder to Lebanon shortstop Ashley West.
West, going to her left, bobbled the ball. She got it to Madison Hartman at second base, but the ball was bobbled there as well and Taylor was safe. With Howser coming around toward the plate, Hartman made a throw over the head of catcher Molly Osborne and Howser scored.
Taylor kept coming as well and was eventually called out at the plate, but the umpires called obstruction on Lebanon third baseman Alex Gibb and gave Taylor home plate to end the game.
There was no question that Taylor and Gibb made contact with each other. Warriors coach Brian Kindell didn’t agree with the obstruction call, but Lebanon’s season was over.
It was a crushing finale for the Warriors (30-4), who have now lost in three state finals in the last six years.
Chloe Allen was 3-for-3 and made a sliding catch in left field for the second out in the seventh. Madison DeGennaro had two hits, including a two-out RBI double in the top of the seventh to push Lebanon ahead 3-2.
Hartman and Grace Gressly added RBIs for the Warriors. Taylor Lewis took the loss with 3.2 innings of circle work in relief of Alexis Strother.
Elyria (22-4) only had five hits and did not notch an RBI all day … the Pioneers’ first two runs scored on wild pitches. Freshman pitcher Isabella St. Peter pitched an eight-hitter to get the win.
It’s the third state championship for Elyria, adding to titles won in 2002 and 2009. Lebanon has made four trips to state without a crown.
This story was originally published by the Journal-News, a media partner of WCPO.