Senior Makenna Kotor and her Lyons Township softball teammates are enjoying a great postseason ride.
And especially the hits.
The Lions continued getting lots of them on May 27 in roaring to a second straight IHSA Class 4A regional title by defeating rival Riverside-Brookfield 15-3 in five innings for the RBHS Regional championship.
“Everybody was just on fire with bats and hitting the ball where they weren’t and able to move people around when needed,” Kotor said. “I think actually these have been some of the best games we’ve had hitting where everybody’s been on fire.”
LTHS (10-18), the No. 11 seed in the Marist Sectional, played No. 7 York in the sectional semifinals on May 30, after the Landmark print deadline. The winner meets No. 1 Marist or No. 5 Mother McAuley on June 2 at Marist for the sectional title.
The Lions collected 14 more hits against the No. 3 Bulldogs (19-9) after 17 hits in beating No. 6 Willowbrook 18-4 in five innings in the May 24 regional semifinals.
After a 1-9 start, LTHS has won five of its last six and avenged two regular-season losses in the playoffs.
“Considering how the season started, I didn’t believe we’d actually make it this far as we have so winning regionals has been a great start,” Kotor said.
Kotor (2 for 4, 5 runs batted in, 2 runs), leadoff hitter Kaitlyn Filkins (4 for 4, 3 runs), Peyton O’Flaherty (3 for 4, 2 RBIs, 3 runs), Tess Meyer (2 for 3, RBI), and Lauren Schinker (3 for 4, 2 runs) combined for 14 hits.
Ava Jacklin had a two-run double in the fifth and Lily Prendergast and Lucy Dreher scored twice. RB HS also committed four errors, contributing to five unearned runs.
Winning pitcher Lexi Jeffrey worked the final three innings in relief of Lucy Lee. They combined on a five-hitter with no strikeouts and four walks.
LTHS lost at RBHS 11-9 on May 2 and at Willowbrook 11-1 on April 12. After RBHS tied the regional final game 3-3 in the second, the Lions scored once in the third and pulled away with six runs in the fourth and five in the fifth.
“They were going in for a revenge win for sure. We had a mentality of nothing to lose,” first-year LTHS coach Megan Pyles said.
The Lions had even more big hits against Willowbrook. Schinker (4 for 4, 2 RBIs, 2 runs), Meyer (3 for 5, 5 RBIs, triple, 2 runs), Filkins (3 for 5, triple, double, 5 RBIs, 3 runs), Kotor (2 for 5, double, 2 runs), O’Flaherty (3 runs), Prendergast (2 for 3, 2 runs), Jeffrey (2 RBIs) and Jacklin (2 runs) all contributed. Winning pitcher Lee worked the first four innings before Jeffrey relieved.
“A nice hitting day for me so far,” said Schinker, the Lions’ No. 8 batter. “That was a great game. It’s just a fun environment when we’re all hitting pitches.”
The right fielder ended the game by throwing a runner out at the plate for the first time this season.
Meyer had a bases-loaded triple in the eight-run fourth. Filkins had a bases-loaded triple in the six-run fifth.
Filkins also is playing shortstop after coming from center field in a midseason position shift. Meyer (catcher) and O’Flaherty (second base) returned to their 2022 positions and Jacklin went to center field. The promotion of Lee to varsity also has bolstered the pitching staff.
“I think it’s just that we trust each other now in positions because we’ve been working at it, fixing our flaws,” said Filkins, who plays infield for her NWI Sox traveling team. “I feel like our pitchers, when they need to, can just throw it down the middle and trust our defense.”