Lebanon High School’s softball team will begin Division I regional play with the same bull’s-eye it’s been displaying all season.
The Warriors (30-0) will meet Northmont (23-7) today at West Carrollton, while Springboro (17-11) will face Mason (27-3) in the second regional semifinal Thursday at Northmont. Both will start at 5 p.m.
“I like where we’re at right now,” said Lebanon coach Brian Kindell, whose squad is 62-1 over the last two years, losing only to North Canton Hoover in last season’s state semifinals.
“We’ve obviously pitched very, very well throughout the course of the year, and I think we’ve come to the point where this is really one of the stronger defensive teams we’ve had. Offensively, we’ve been very, very consistent.”
The Warriors have outscored their opponents 250-28. They’ve won their last six games by a combined score of 63-0.
And they have an absolute force in the circle, Indiana University-bound senior pitcher Tara Trainer.
Kindell is expecting a serious challenge from Northmont, the Greater Western Ohio Conference Central Division runner-up behind Centerville. Lebanon won the GWOC South Division title.
“I don’t think there’s any secret to Northmont,” Kindell said. “They’re known for their consistency and just being fundamentally sound in all areas of the game.”
Springboro will also be carrying the GWOC banner in its matchup against Mason. The Panthers finished second behind Lebanon in the South race and lost twice (10-0 and 2-1) to the Warriors.
Senior Lauren Powell is an ace in her own right and will be the key to Springboro’s advancement hopes.
“Everything starts with LP,” Panthers coach Randy Callahan said. “I feel that she’s one of the top two pitchers in Southwest Ohio, the other one being Tara Trainer. They just happen to go to the same pitching coach on the same day too. There’s a lot of similarities.”
Callahan said Springboro’s record is deceiving because the team had a run of injuries earlier this year. Powell (foot) was included in that group.
Callahan described the Panthers as “young and feisty.” He starts two freshmen, second baseman Rachel Oxley and third baseman Ashley Bosley.
“I just hope we continue playing the way we have the last couple weeks,” Callahan said. “If we do that and LP pitches the way she has been, I think we’ll be OK.”
The regional final is set for noon Saturday at Northmont. The site will be changed if the Thunderbolts beat Lebanon.