Addisen Fisher (third from right) and the Bend Lava Bears celebrate their first state championship Saturday.
Addisen Fisher (third from right) and the Bend Lava Bears celebrate their first state championship Saturday.

EUGENE – The disappointment from the last two seasons melted away for Bend's softball team Saturday at the University of Oregon.

The Lava Bears, who had highly promising seasons cut short by gut-wrenching semifinal losses the last two years, finally got their first title by edging Lebanon 2-1 in the OSAA/OnPoint Community Credit Union 5A final.

The championship lifts a giant weight off the shoulders of UCLA-bound pitcher Addisen Fisher, who carried heavy expectations throughout her career after being rated as the top 2024 recruit in the nation by multiple outlets.

“Even in town, and at school, we've kind of been known as the team that's gotten to the semifinals twice and lost,” Fisher said. “This year our goal was just to make it past the semifinals and just do it. That's what we did. We killed it.”

Junior shortstop and leadoff hitter Isabella Lauerman, who had two of Bend's six hits, said the title “means the world” to the Lava Bears.

“We've tried to do this for three years,” she said. “We've been capable of doing it, but just fallen short. And this year we finally did it. We followed through.”

The title is an exclamation point on the brilliant career of Fisher.

“It's like the one thing that she hadn't done that she needed to do,” Lauerman said. “She did it, we did it. It's incredible.”

Fisher turned in her usual solid performance Saturday, throwing a three-hitter with three strikeouts and one walk. But it took a clutch hit from sophomore catcher Mackenzie Shaughnessy to put the second-seeded Lava Bears (24-6) over the top against the fourth-seeded Warriors (22-8).

Trailing 1-0 in bottom of the fifth inning, Bend got singles from freshman Emily Lauerman and Isabella Lauerman to put pressure on Lebanon sophomore pitcher Tatum Cole.

With one out, junior Lauren Glasser lined out to senior shortstop Jannah Jimenez, who threw wildly to second base in an attempt at a double play, allowing the Lauermans to advance to second and third.

With first base open, Lebanon opted to intentionally walk the dangerous Fisher, who entered the game with 17 home runs, and take its chances against Shaughnessy, who struck out in her first two at-bats.

“I was standing on first base yelling, 'Don't take that, make it hurt, let's go,'” Fisher said of her message to Shaughnessy. “I knew she was going to get a hit.”

Shaughnessy dug in at the plate.

“I'm mad, I'm fired up,” Shaughnessy said she was thinking at the time. “We had runners on base and they walk Addi. I didn't hear her at first base. I really had tunnel vision.”

On the first pitch, Shaughnessy cracked a sharp single to center field, scoring two runs and putting Bend ahead 2-1.

“On third base, I was screaming,” Fisher said. “I was very excited because I knew I was going to go out and do my job in the circle and lock it in. That's what won us the game.”

Isabella Lauerman said it was “crazy” for Lebanon to walk Fisher.

“It's like, let the girl play,” Lauerman said. “And so it was like, 'Kenzie, got to show them they can't do that.' And she went up there and proved them wrong. We're more than just Addisen. We can score without her.”

Bend had more dominant teams the past two seasons, and many of those talented players graduated. But the Lava Bears came back this year with a young lineup and grabbed the big prize.

“It was definitely a challenge at first,” Fisher said. “A lot of people didn't know each other, a lot of lack of confidence. But the chemistry was so much better than any team I've had in the past. We get along so well. We love to come to practice and hang out for two hours. That's what took us so far.”

The young players came of age.

“We needed to kind of start fresh,” Isabella Lauerman said. “They needed to learn the ropes. And once we figured it out, we worked as a team. It was amazing.”

Shaughnessy developed a strong rapport with Fisher from behind the plate.

“It's so special to be able to work with Addi,” Shaughnessy said. “It's unreal, and I can't believe it. I was so scared in the beginning.”

The win also served as payback for last year, when Lebanon defeated Bend 4-3 in the semifinals. In that game, Fisher gave up six hits and walked six.

“It was definitely more personal,” Fisher said of the rematch with Lebanon. “We were a lot more nervous because of that, too, just because we knew they were a good team.”

Lebanon opened the scoring with a run in the third inning.

Senior Makayla Padilla walked, advanced to third base with two outs and scored when senior Alexis Mulligan hit a slow spinner to the first baseman, freshman Cassidy Sandgren, who was unable to scoop it up.

Cole went the distance in the circle for Lebanon, allowing six hits, striking out 10 and walking four.

Lebanon, seeking its first title, lost in the final by one run for the second year in a row. Last year, the Warriors fell 6-5 in eight innings to Mid-Willamette Conference rival Dallas.