By Tris Wykes

LEBANON – Call it one of the best Senior Days ever. 

That’s what the Lebanon High softball team enjoyed Monday when it rallied to beat visiting Fall Mountain, 23-11, behind two Autumn Crowell home runs. The NHIAA Division III victory was the Raiders’ first triumph in 45 games and snapped a losing streak extending to 2017. 

Lebanon High’s Autumn Crowell (21) is at the center of her team’s postgame celebration. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.

The Wildcats led, 3-0, after an inning but fell to 0-6 this season. The teams meet again Wednesday in Langdon, but there will be no discussion in the Lebanon dugout of consecutive setbacks and how to end them.

“We’d talk to about it every game, but we didn’t talk about it as a position that was shameful,” said fifth-year Lebanon coach Ray Pettersen, whose team is 1-6. “We were progressing at our own pace.”

Lebanon exploded for eight runs during the second inning and led, 9-6, after three frames. Crowell, a senior first baseman, scored the ninth run when she barreled through Pettersen’s stop sign in the third-base coaching box and narrowly beat a relay throw home.

“We talked at the beginning of the season about needing to be a more offensively-aggressive team,” Pettersen said with a smile. “Their confidence level and my strategy were a little bit different when they were running the bags at some points.”

Lebanon High’s softball team celebrates its first victory in 45 games. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.

Jacqueline Fredette’s three-run triple in the fourth inning put the Raiders up, 13-8. A Crowell double scored two more runners and the hosts led, 17-8, by the end of the inning. Pettersen said he and his assistants had eyed Monday and Fall Mountain’s lack of success as a likely time to snap the streak.

“They were finally confident enough to put it all together,” the coach said of his players. “We don’t want to be a team that just comes out and has fun. We’re competitive and we want to be competitive with the other teams in our division.”

The sweetest part of the afternoon’s result might have been that Lebanon’s seniors – Crowell, Fredette, Cassady Coates, Jaclyn King and Kaitlyn Eylander – won’t graduate without a victory. 

“They’re all on cloud nine and to say they’re excited is an understatement,” Pettersen said. “It was intense and an ultimate high. It’s been a long time coming.”

Lebanon High assistant coach Bob Beisler sports a Senior Day shirt. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.

Notes: Piper Morgan, Lebanon’s sophomore standout, didn’t enter the game until the sixth inning. She had missed recent practices while recovering from a Covid-19 vaccine shot and Pettersen said he didn’t include her in the starting lineup because he hadn’t understood the reason for her absences… Crowell was also the field hockey team’s goaltender last fall. She plans to attend West Virginia University and major in forensic science… Pettersen is the stamping department supervisor at Claremont’s New Hampshire Industries, a mechanical engineering company. He previously coached at the youth level and was hired as the Lebanon program’s JV coach in 2017 just before the rehiring of onetime Raiders boss Deb Beach was nixed. That gave Pettersen a sudden and unexpected promotion to the varsity job and made him that team’s third coach in as many seasons. He was preceded by former Lebanon players Kassie Dunkerton and Jessica Bavos… Lebanon has seven juniors and three sophomores on its roster. Of potential concern is that the Lebanon Middle School’s seventh- and eighth-grade team has only a dozen players… The Raiders are scheduled to finish the regular season with home-and-home series against Newport and Hanover.

Recent Lebanon High softball season records

2015: 1-15

2016: 2-14

2017: 3-13

2018: 0-16

2019: 0-16

2020: no season

2021: 1-6

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Lebanon High’s Alyssa Smith-Duff slides home past Fall Mountain catcher Emma Oliver. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.