The Lyon's Lily Hanafin hitting the ball during a 3-2 regional championship win against Willowbrook on Saturday, May 28 in Western Springs. (Shanel Romain/Contributor)
Peyton O’Flaherty

Starting sophomore second baseman Peyton O’Flaherty finally enjoyed her first varsity home run for the Lyons Township High School softball team in the IHSA Class 4A Regional semifinal May 24 at LTHS.

“Being my first season on varsity, having my first one felt really nice,” O’Flaherty said. “To have my team supporting me was really nice.”

O’Flaherty had an even bigger hit on May 28.

Her run-scoring single tied the regional final game in the first inning and the Lions never trailed again in a hard-fought 3-2 victory over Willowbrook for their first regional championship since 2017.

Last season, the Lions lost in the regional final to Oak Park and River Forest after sweeping their regular-season series.

Senior and winning pitcher Lily Hanafin struck out a career-high 17 against Willowbrook, including the final out.

“It’s absolutely super exciting. After the game, we all threw all our gloves in the air like we won state,” senior shortstop Ava Paganis said.

No. 2-seeded LTHS (20-3) will play No. 3 Downers Grove North in the Marist Sectional semifinals at 4:30 p.m. on June 1 after the co-West Suburban Conference Silver Division champions split their regular-season meetings.

Paganis (2 doubles) and Tess Meyer (double) each had two hits, and Hanafin and Anna Bryant singled.

Meyer helped the Lions regain momentum with her first-inning single. O’Flaherty followed by knocking in the tying run.

“I knew with them being a run ahead that I had to put the ball in play,” O’Flaherty said. “I did my job and was able to hit the ball down the left side and get [Meyer] in.”

In the second inning, Kaitlyn Filkins drove in courtesy runner Lucy Dreher and back-to-back fifth-inning doubles by Meyer and Paganis opened a 3-1 lead. The Warriors scored in the seventh but did not have another runner reach scoring position.

In the regional semifinal, LTHS beat Eisenhower 9-0. The game ended in the bottom of the third after the Cardinals’ lone pitcher suffered a game-ending injury.

O’Flaherty hit her three-run homer in the second after Paganis and Bryant (2-for-2) singled. Hanafin (2-for-2) doubled in the six-run first.

“I’ve had a lot of warning tracks but only doubles. I’ve gotten off the fence, but just that couple of extra feet I hadn’t gotten [until today],” O’Flaherty said.