Exiting the bus at the Stebbins Softball Complex in Greenville it’s one of the first things opponents see: the huge green scoreboard 28 feet wide and 13 feet tall towering in left field.
Then Lady Wave Stadium comes into full view. It’s an impressive home-field advantage: a brick press box, bleachers wrapping around the backstop from dugout to dugout and banners in the outfield proclaiming three state appearances including that 2007 state championship.
And that’s before taking on the Green Wave in the field. Heck, Lady Wave Stadium even overwhelmed its own players.
“At first it’s kind of intimidating,” said sophomore pitcher Ally Russell. “It’s a great opportunity to play here. … I feel like if I walked in here I’d be like, ‘Whoa.’ I wouldn’t know what to do.”
Fortunately for the Lebanon Warriors they have big-game experience. They used it to take an early lead over Greenville in a matchup of state runners-up from 2012 — Lebanon in Division I and Greenville in D-II.
But Russell ended it with her two-out blast over the left-fielder’s head to give the Green Wave a 6-5 walk-off win.
“We don’t circle many games on our schedule,” Greenville coach Jerrod Newland said, “but there are a couple games each year that are unique games we can tee it up.”
Russell finally did in the seventh. Greenville’s Jordan Harter walked with two outs and Rachel Class singled. Russell then delivered the game winner for her second hit and second RBI of the game.
“The first thing I thought was it was too high and she caught it,” Russell said. “It didn’t happen so that was exciting. … It was perfect.”
“I told her in the fifth inning this day is going to be a walk-off winner,” Newland said. “I told her you’ll probably hit it. Right before she got up there she looked at me and said, ‘You called it.’”
The game featuring two of the state’s top teams wasn’t without drama … and some controversy.
Greenville (4-0) tied the game 5-5 in the sixth on a pair of one-out walks and senior Erin Albright’s bloop single to right. The Green Wave made it 5-4 off the hit and tied it on an overthrow to second trying to get Albright stretching the single. Albright was awarded third on fielder’s interference, prompting Lebanon coach Brian Kindell to argue. The Warriors (1-1) then escaped the jam.
Fans from both sides questioned the strike zone, sometimes passionately, among other calls. Lebanon walked 11 batters and Greenville four.
Kindell politely declined to comment after the game.
“Two great teams going at it,” Newland said. “Windy atmosphere. Unique atmoshphere. Odd game. Bottom line is Greenville wins 6-5.”
Lebanon took advantage of four Greenville errors to lead 4-0 after 1-1/2 innings. Greenville scored twice in the bottom of the second thanks in part to a pair of lead-off walks.
The Warriors led 5-3 in the sixth on senior Casie Hutchinson’s lead-off triple and junior Kaitlyn Bergman’s RBI groundout. They stranded one runner in the seventh and 11 overall. Greenville left 10 on base.