LYONS – The Lyons softball team has proven to be every bit as good as it thought it could be in 2020 after snapping a decade-long streak without a state tournament appearance last fall.
But the Lions aren’t letting up at all and continue to use each game as an opportunity to prove that to themselves.
On Tuesday, the Lions were presented with an opportunity to further build their confidence as a Class 3A state title contender when they hosted Strasburg, the club that caused their season to start on a sour note by defeating Lyons in the team’s season opener on Aug. 22. They didn’t waste it, coming away with a 6-3 conference victory on their home field.
“It’s definitely one that we needed to win,” Lyons sophomore shortstop Brooklyn Enny said. “We played them in our first game of the season and that was a hard loss for us. We really wanted to come back out here and show who’s boss today. We’ve played a lot of the top teams and we’re looking to prove that no one can stop us if we come out ready to play.”
Currently ranked fourth in Class 3A by the CHSAANow.com poll, and also entering Tuesday’s game sitting fourth in the RPI standings, the Lions (6-2) pulled out to a commanding 6-0 lead after a three-run fourth inning. But the No. 5 ranked Indians (4-4) wouldn’t give up the Patriot League contest easily and scored three runs in the top of the sixth.
With one last chance in the top of the seventh, Strasburg put the tying runs on first and second before senior pitcher Shantel Koester killed the rally and the game by fielding a ground ball and throwing Graecyn Graf out at first.
“The biggest thing with these girls is they don’t ever get rattled,” first-year Lyons head coach Julie Vasquez said. “They really don’t. They can be down or the game can be close and they just put their heads down and they make it happen. Half of our league are state contenders so half of our games are potentially putting us at state so we have to prepare for each game and each practice like we’re going to state.”
Enny went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs, pushing her batting average to .700, her RBI total to 21 and her extra-base total to nine. All of those numbers are team highs.
Since all Strasburg runs were unearned, Koester now sports a 2.98 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 35.2 innings pitched.
The Lions, who went 14-12 last season and lost by one run in the first round of the state tournament, will continue their 2020 season when they host Sterling (5-3) on Monday.
“Our bats have been hot all season,” Vasquez said. “And when our offense hasn’t been there, we’ve made up for it with our defense. We have a lot of strong leaders, they pick each other up and they play hard. They like to play hard, they like to work hard and they like to win.”