After a tough 2014 regular season, the predominantly young Lyons Township High School softball lineup nearly upset No. 1 seed Marist in the regional final.

The Lions were defeated 6-5 in 10 innings.

“Every game we lost, we tried to take three or four really positive things out of it,” LT coach Dawn Schabacker said. “In that regional championship, we played the best game we possibly could, which was really encouraging coming back this year.”

The Lions are eager to continue that momentum behind six returning starters – three of them juniors – and a talented group of junior newcomers that only lost six games on junior varsity. Last season, LTHS was 10-20-2 and sixth in the West Suburban Conference Silver Division at 2-10.

Senior Courtney Petrosius and Alexus Pelletiere were starting outfielders in 2014 and senior Lindsey Arnston was among key contributors at third base and pitcher.

Shortstop Delanie Cruz, catcher Riley Frisbie and Maggie Vacchiano, last year’s busiest pitcher, started as sophomores.

“Always a year on varsity makes you wake up and decide something I need to get a little better at, especially defense and hitting,” Schabacker said. “Even though our record was not as strong as we wanted it to be, especially in conference, we know what our conference consists of. That’s our goal, to win conference and at least be competitive in every single game.”

Petrosius, Pelletiere, Cruz and Frisbie appeared in 31 games last season. Petrosius may move to second base.

Among full-time hitters, Cruz (.376) and Petrosius (.360) were third and fifth in batting average. Petrosius was third in runs scored (23) and had 10 extra base hits with a home run and eight doubles. Cruz had 11 extra-base hits, 10 of them doubles, and shared the team lead with seven stolen bases.

Frisbie had played LTHS baseball as a freshman. In 2014, Frisbie (.256) was third with 16 runs batted in and Cruz and Petrosius shared fifth (13). Arnston (.295, HR) and Pelletiere (.222, 3 stolen bases) each contributed 6 RBIs.

In 56 at bats, Vacchiano had 23 hits (.411) and 12 RBIs. With no returning varsity pitchers in 2014, she made a team-high 19 appearances and was 3-12 with a 4.48 earned run average and 34 strikeouts in 89 innings.

“She did a great job coming in. We had to pull her up (to varsity),” Schabacker said. “She was thrown into the fire and responded really well and has really developed over the offseason.”

Other varsity returnees are senior outfielder/courtesy runner Grace Delleman (14 runs), senior utility player Anne Gertsmeier (.455, 5 RBIs in 17 games) and sophomore pitcher Sapphire Munoz, injured the latter half the season.

Munoz and Arnston bolster the varsity pitching experience. Munoz was 2-4-1 with a 2.56 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 43.2 innings. Arnston was 1-3-1 with 21 strikeouts in 31.1 innings. 

Juniors Tenley Bozzi and Taylor Guagenti were the top pitchers for the JV.

“We have a lot of people that can help out (with pitching), which we did not have last year,” Schabacker said.

Bozzi also is an early contender for a field position along with juniors Marina Gonzalez and Samantha Lattner. Other junior newcomers are Kylee Bravo, Hannah Ellenby, Bridget Flynn, Samantha Kohn, Taylor Kohn, Isabella Nardi, Nicole Ranieri and Kim Tegtmeier.

Gonzalez rejoins the program after focusing on volleyball as a sophomore. Lattner was the JV’s center fielder.

“We have a lot of bats up and down the lineup. It’s going to come down to whose bat is better and defensive positions will come into play,” Schabacker said. “There’s no other way to put it. Our junior class is really strong. We’re looking to see a lot of leadership from them to step into positions.”

LTHS softball scouting report

Head coach: Dawn Schabacker (23rd season)

Team record last season: 10-20-2, 2-10 in West Suburban Silver (6th place), lost 6-5 (10 innings) to Marist in Class 4A Marist Regional final

Key returners: Seniors Lindsey Arnston (IF/P), Courtney Petrosius (OF/IF) and Alexus Pelletiere (OF), juniors Delanie Cruz (SS), Riley Frisbie (C) and Maggie Vacchiano (P) and sophomore Sapphire Munoz (P)

Newcomers to watch: Juniors Tenley Bozzi (P), Marina Gonzalez (OF/IF) and Samantha Lattner (OF)

Quote: “I definitely think that the [varsity] experience that we bring to the field is going to propel us into the season,” Schabacker said.

Outlook: Taking highly regarded Marist into extra inning during the 2014 postseason provided a glimpse of the Lions’ promise. With six returning starters, LTHS should move up the West Suburban Conference Silver Division standings.