During their postgame talk May 17, Lyons Township High School softball players whooped it up while congratulating senior pitcher Lily Hanafin for reaching 200 varsity career strikeouts during the 7-0 home victory over Oak Park and River Forest.
The applause quickly escalated into a large roar.
The Lions learned that they earned a share of their first West Suburban Conference Silver Division title since 1990, because first-place Downers Grove North just lost to third-place Glenbard West.
“We’ve come close a couple of years but fallen a little short. This is a really good year for us. We’re a great group of girls and we really, really wanted it so it’s super exciting,” LTHS senior Ava Paganis said. “Honestly, we kind of thought [the Downers North news] was a glitch. Obviously, finding out about Downers losing was really exciting, all of us jumping around.”
Paganis and Makenna Kotor homered for the Lions (18-3, 10-2 in WSC Silver). Sarah Karlson was 3 for 3.
Hanafin struck out seven but reached 200 with her second strikeout of the game, which ended the first inning. Hanafin was momentarily confused as she walked toward the dugout and was swarmed near the third-base line.
“I had an idea but kind of thought I was further off,” Hanafin said. “I was like, ‘Guys. It’s just another strikeout.’ Once they all started hugging me, I figured it out.”
The players presented Hanafin with a clear case for the historic ball signed by the players and coaches.
It’s the second game ball for Hanafin, who received one during a traveling tournament.
“The ump came up to me and said, ‘I’ve never seen [ball] movement like yours,’” Hanafin said. “It was just a really nice moment. The 12-year-old me was so excited.”
LTHS and Downers North (15-8, 10-2) split their season series, but the Lions also lost their first meeting with York. The co-champs could meet in the IHSA Class 4A Marist Sectional semifinals.
“Hopefully we’ll see them in the postseason,” LTHS coach Nikki Paluch said. “I’m proud of how far these kids have come and how they’ve been playing all season. They mesh well together. They’re having a lot of fun, too.”
LTHS boys tennis
Lyons Township senior Tiernan Kelly received a lift just before the IHSA Class 2A Sectional when projected junior doubles partner Patrick Adams returned just in time from a broken toe.
“We switched around a few times but towards the end of his recovery, that was his goal,” Kelly said.
The Lions then stepped up at sectionals, which they hosted, to finish second and earn a berth to their first state meet with a top-four finish.
LTHS also advanced the third-place doubles team of senior Will Carroll and sophomore Mason Mazzone and sophomore fourth-place singles finisher Jack McLane.
“It’s been such a great season and to be able to finish at state is so exciting,” Kelly said. “It’s been such a journey and I can’t wait.”
In their opening match, the No. 5-seeded Kelly and Adams lost their first set 6-2 but came back to win the next two 6-2, 6-2. In the quarterfinals with a state meet berth on the line, they won 6-3, 7-6 after trailing 5-2 in the second set.
“We started thinking about it as it’s a here-or-never kind of moment. We just knew we had to win to get to the next round and get to state,” Kelly said.
Carroll and Mazzone competed at state doubles in 2021 but with different partners who have graduated. The fourth-seeded McLane lost only one game in his two victories to qualify. Adam Kane lost in the singles quarterfinals.
“I just played consistent and didn’t let myself get into my own head,” McLane said. “[State] means a lot because we’ve put in a lot of work over the years, especially last year. It’s just great showing up and getting it done.”
LTHS girls soccer
The Lions (19-1) captured their ninth straight regional championship 3-0 over Willowbrook on May 20 in the IHSA Class 3A Regional final hosted by LTHS.
Freshman Caroline Mortonson (goal, assist), senior Eleanor Musgrove (goal), sophomores Josie Pochocki (goal) and Caroline McKenna (assist) and junior Riley Wengerd (assist) accounted for the Lions’ scoring.
LTHS beat Argo 9-0 in the May 18 regional semifinals. Junior Katie O’Malley scored three goals and Mortonson had two assists.
The Lions played Morton on May 24 for a berth to the Glenbard West Sectional final on May 27 and potentially the Sandburg Supersectional on May 31.
The Lions (16-13) completed the regular season losing to Brother Rice 3-1 on May 21 and Lockport 4-0 on May 18.
Sam Viniard (2 for 3) and Patrick Engels (sacrifice fly RBI) paced Saturday’s effort. Frederick Ragsdale III had two of the Lions’ three hits versus Lockport.
LTHS boys volleyball
The Lions (23-12) completed the regular season with a 25-18, 25-13 victory at Addison Trail on May 18.