The Trinity softball team sent Lyons Township packing from the Class 4A state playoffs on Wednesday by shutting out the Lions 4-0 at Triton College.
Despite the chilly late afternoon air, Trinity's bats were on fire from the get-go. Abby Ramirez blasted a homer to start the game. A few batters later, junior centerfielder Nicole Evans belted a round-tripper over the left-center field fence. The Blazers added another run in the second inning and one in the fourth to secure the victory and advance to Saturday's sectional championship where they will take on either Lane or Leyden.
Trinity pitching ace Chase Machain tossed her third-straight shutout to help the Blazers to their 30th victory on the season.
With the loss, the Lions finish up a strong 2012 campaign as regional champs and 19 victories. Junior Becky Ryckman said she's glad to see the program headed in the right direction.
"I'm really proud of our team," she said. "We've come a long way this season. We were coming together a lot on and off the field."
Ryckman went 3-for-3 with three singles for the Lions (19-15-1), while senior shortstop Lauren Huebner went 2-for-4 with two singles.
For the Blazers, Ramirez went 3-for-3 with three RBIs, while Evans went 1-for-2 with an RBI.
Lyons sophomore pitcher Ashley Koziol threw six innings, giving up four runs on eight hits, while striking out five and walking one.
"Ashley (Koziol) has really stepped up this season," said Lions head coach Dawn Schabacker. "She's been our pitcher the last seven games. Everybody does their thing on this team. (Senior catcher) Skye Riddle did a great job behind the plate, (Huebner) is a great leader, and (senior first baseman/pitcher Alyssa Koziol) always keeps everybody even-keel."
There were many memorable moments to the Lions' season, but Ryckman said that, for her, the biggest accomplishment was winning the regional championship against a tough opponent in Oak Park.
"My favorite memory of the year will be our win over Oak Park in the regional championship," she said. "It was definitely a big confidence booster for everybody."
Ryckman said she is excited to be on the team for another season in 2013, and knows that there are great things to come for her Lions.
"I'm looking forward to next year," she said. "I think we're going to be a really strong team. We've got a lot of talent coming up, and we already have a lot of talent on the team. It'll be a really good year."