After losing a pair of close games to Oak Park during the regular season, the Lyons Township softball team exacted a meaningful measure of revenge against the Huskies via a 3-0 victory in its own regional final last year. Although their season ended in the following round with a 4-0 loss to sectional host Trinity in a semifinal matchup, the Lions carved out a fine campaign by notching 19 wins and their first regional championship since 2008.

But now it’s a new season.

LT lost five starters to graduation last year, including All-West Suburban Conference Silver Division performers Alyssa Koziol, Skye Riddle and Lauren Huebner (team MVP). On the flip side, a plethora of talented players return for head coach Dawn Schabacker.

Ashley Koziol, who tossed a five-hit complete game shutout against Oak Park in the regional final, is a junior pitcher/infielder with plenty of varsity experience. Last year, Koziol hit .271 with three home runs, 16 RBIs and 13 runs. In the pitcher’s circle, she finished 11-6 with a 2.40 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 138 innings. Senior center fielder/pitcher Becky Ryckman (.327, 13 RBIs), junior third baseman Kayla Morrissey (10 RBIs, 9 runs scored) and junior second baseman Stephanie D’Anna (.311, 16 runs scored) also return as team leaders.

First baseman Leah Nunez, third baseman/catcher Alyssa Collins, and shortstop Katie Dzierwa offer an infusion of new talent around the diamond. Allie Arnston, Crystal Bonilla, Tannah Bozzi, Dominique Gonzalez, Katie Hogan, Megan Klima, Heaven Kuder, Kelley Mangerson, Claire Meyer, Alexus Pelletiere, Courtney Petrosius and Kayla Rodriguez round out the Lions’ junior-laden roster.

“We have many talented players and it just comes down to putting it all together,” Schabacker said. “Our JV team has only lost five games [between frosh/soph years].Even though the level of play is much different than the varsity level, we have many dedicated athletes who will continue to improve throughout the season.

“We plan on being a very aggressive team offensively and play very consistent defensively,” Schabacker added. “Our focus is to improve with every game and repeat as regional champs and challenge for a sectional title.”

The West Suburban (Silver) Conference race appears wide open with LT, Glenbard West, Downers Grove North, York and Oak Park projected as viable contenders. The Lions also take on a challenging nonconference slate featuring matchups against Fenwick, Riverside-Brookfield and Morton.

“Our conference is always very tough,” Schabacker said. “In order to be competitive, we’ll need to be ready for every game.”