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Lebanon rolling into D-I postseason seeking elusive state title

To play softball at Lebanon High School, it’s best to bring considerable game. That’s what it takes to crack the Warriors’ deep and talented lineup.

No one has done that better than catcher and utility standout Molly Osborne.

“It’s great to play on a team where everyone around you is really good,” she said following a 12-7 defeat of host Fairmont on Friday night and collecting her 100th career hit. “You’re expected to go to a regional final and expected to go back to state. Eventually, we are going to get that state championship and this year better be it because it’s my senior year.”

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As usual, Lebanon will take a No. 1 seed into the Division I sectional tournament. The Warriors (19-2) will host Stebbins (7-14) in a postseason opener on Monday. No. 4 seed and Greater Western Ohio Conference National West rival Miamisburg (11-10) will play the winner on Wednesday.

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All the higher seeds will host first round and sectional semifinal games.

Lebanon completed another perfect 11-0 run in GWOC divisional play, which includes crossover games against GWOC National East teams such as Fairmont.

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Lebanon has proven to be a tough out in the GWOC, going 71-1 in the conference since 2012 and winning outright or sharing divisional titles seven straight seasons.

In that span, Lebanon is 189-24 overall, easily the best of any area D-I program, and has four appearances in the state final four. All that’s missing in that impressive resume is a state championship. The Warriors have come tantalizing close, placing runner-up in 2017, ’15 and ’12.

“That’s our goal every year, to win a state championship,” said veteran Lebanon coach Brian Kendell. “We work extremely hard 365 days a year to win our last game of the season.”

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A break in the weather enabled Lebanon to play Monday through Friday with another doubleheader scheduled in the Gahanna Lincoln invitational on Saturday.

If Lebanon is to contend for another state title, it’ll need more of the same from Osborne and the rest of the Warriors’ formidable lineup.

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Junior Ashley West (.475 batting average, 29 hits) and sophomore Logan Mueller (.453, 29 hits) lead Lebanon in hitting. Junior Kat Frank (18-2 record, 123 strikeouts, 1.45 ERA) is the pitching ace.

“This means you expect greatness every day,” assured Osborne, who signed to play at West Virginia Wesleyan College, an NCAA D-II program. “We expect to win and beat anyone we ever play and most of the time we end up doing that.”

Fairmont (12-4, 7-4) already had clinched the GWOC National East title.

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• Fairborn (13-8, 10-4) had clinched at least a share of the GWOC American South title by beating Beavercreek 12-2 on Wednesday. All Xenia needed to do to share that championship was win at D-II state power Greenville on Friday, an imposing task for any team.

Xenia did just that with a stunning 5-3 victory. That snapped the Green Wave’s 34-game divisional win streak and enabled the Buccaneers (12-9, 10-4) to share the GWOC American South title with Fairborn.

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It was the first softball title for Xenia since 1987 in the old Western Ohio League. Xenia (19-8, 8-6) doubled its fun by also winning the GWOC American South baseball championship.

Greenville (21-5, 14-1), ranked No. 4 in the D-II state poll, already has clinched a GWOC American North title. A No. 1 sectional seed, Greenville will host Trotwood-Madison in a postseason opener on Tuesday.

»FACEBOOK: For more high school sports you should like Marc Pendleton

• Milton-Union (15-4, 11-1) swept Middletown Madison (16-5, 10-2) in the regular season, which launched the Bulldogs to a Southwestern Buckeye League Buckeye Division title.

Monroe (14-2, 11-1) won its last five SWBL Southwestern games to edge Brookville (14-4, 10-2) for that divisional title.

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