Perhaps Lyons Township High School senior Tess Meyer truly was meant to play softball.
At only nine days old, Meyer was at her first baseball game for one of her three older brothers.
“It was like I was born the field,” Meyer said.
Meyer will continue to excel at Northern Illinois University, but her four-year varsity career for the Lions ended May 30 with an 8-0 loss to rival York in the IHSA Class 4A Marist Sectional semifinals. The game was played one day earlier at LTHS to accommodate the school’s graduation ceremony May 31.
After a combined 31 hits in their two regional victories, the No. 11-seeded Lions (10-19) were held to four singles – two by junior leadoff hitter Kaitlyn Filkins and one by seniors Ida Castro and Grace Sneed — against York sophomore pitcher Avery Kanouse (6 strikeouts, 3 walks).
“I’m going to definitely miss the high school environment,” Meyer said. “I’m going to miss the Lyons Township environment and the fans totally. All of the security guards would come around and watch.”
The Lions and Dukes split their two regular-season meetings with LTHS getting six runs off Kanouse in its 10-7 victory in May. The No. 7-seeded Dukes (18-15) lost 10-0 in the sectional final to No. 1 Marist (37-2), which went on to capture the state title.
“It was a rough outing offensively,” first-year LTHS coach Megan Pyles said. “[Kanouse] ended up coming in a couple of innings once we got up on them [in May]. We knew she was going to be in there. We just fell short.”
After starting 1-9, the Lions won five of their last seven with double-digit runs in four of them and captured back-to-back regional titles for the first time since 2016-17.
Meyer (.462 batting average, 1.361 OPS, 4 home runs, 24 runs batted in) and junior Peyton O’Flaherty (.443, 1.266 OPS, 5 HR, 35 RBIs) were the Lions’ All-West Suburban Conference Silver Division players.
Among many keys to the turnaround was returning Meyer to her usual catching position from shortstop, which also helped in mentoring freshman Lucy Lee’s mid-season promotion to varsity to join senior Lexi Jeffrey as the primary pitchers.
When O’Flaherty returned to second base from third base, that also allowed the emergence of senior Makenna Kotor at third and outfielder Filkins at shortstop, a position she plays in traveling softball.
“Once we started to click and started to learn the girls, the new expectations we had for them, and we got to know each other, things definitely turned around,” Pyles said. “Once we started putting runs up, started making changes and winning, the girls’ attitudes changed.”
Meyer began playing catcher when she was 10 or 11 years old in travel softball.
“They threw me back there one game and I really liked it,” Meyer said.
Meyer appreciated the progress she made behind the plate with LTHS and as a vocal leader wherever she played.
“I would say [I’m most proud of] leading communication with my teammates. I really feel like all four years I learned that,” Meyer said.
“Tess is just all-around athletic. She’s talented. She’s a leader,” Pyles said. “You put her anywhere and she will excel. Putting her behind the plate helped our defense.”
Last summer, Meyer played catcher, third base, shortstop, second base and even some left field for her Tennessee Mojo Blue traveling team. Northern Illinois recruited a teammate in 2022 and invited Meyer to camps after watching her play.
Meyer has dreamed of playing NCAA Division I softball for as long as she can remember.
“I definitely grew a lot and I still have room for growth in skills and mentally,” Meyer said. “I’ve always loved the game and I feel the love of the game gets you places.”