Home International Only a freshman, Lexi Kyros gets valuable tips from her senior teammates....

Only a freshman, Lexi Kyros gets valuable tips from her senior teammates. ‘Take charge. Be a leader.’ And it works.

8
0

PEORIA — Freshman catcher Lexi Kyros was about to step up to the plate when Marist coach Colleen Phelan called her over for a few quick words.

It was the first inning with the bases-loaded and two outs. A chance to strike early in the biggest game of the season.

Kyros, who deals with pitch-by-pitch pressure as the starting backstop, didn’t look nervous at all. But Phelan wanted to make sure she was ready for her first huge moment on the state stage.

“I just told her, ‘Honestly, Lex. This is the first inning. This is a no-pressure situation,’” Phelan said. “I told her to take a look around, enjoy the moment and smoke it.”

She smoked it, all right. All the way to the fence in left field for a two-run double.

Kyros also was full of other surprises Friday afternoon as the RedHawks rolled to a 7-1 victory over Mundelein in a Class 4A semifinal game at Louisville Slugger Sports Complex.

Boston University commit Camryn Lyons singled and doubled to lead the way for Marist (36-3). Junior right-hander Gianna Hillegonds had seven strikeouts to notch the pitching victory.

Hillegonds, a Bradley recruit, will be the first pitcher to start in two state title games for the RedHawks, who play St. Charles North (25-6) at 4:30 p.m. Saturday in a rematch of the 2022 final.

Marist’s Gianna Hillegonds (8) delivers a pitch against Mundelein during the Class 4A state semifinals at Louisville Slugger Sports Complex in Peoria on Friday, June 7, 2024. (Rob Dicker / Daily Southtown)

“I’ve been there before and I kind of know the drill,” Hillegonds said. “(Friday) I remembered what it was like last year.

“It was great bringing back that feeling and really trusting my teammates, knowing that they’d have my back.”

Meanwhile, during her breakout day, Kyros had back-to-back doubles and totaled three RBIs.

“It was really awesome for me to get that first hit over with,” Kyros said, smiling. “But I knew that even if I didn’t get that hit, my team would be there for me.

“I’m just thankful to be here right now, especially being a freshman. It’s really huge for me.”

Marist's Camryn Lyons (10) connects with a pitch. Marist defeated Mundelein 7-1 in the Class 4A state semifinals at Louisville Slugger Sports Complex in Peoria, Friday, June 7, 2024. (Rob Dicker / Daily Southtown)).
Marist’s Camryn Lyons (10) connects against Mundelein during the Class 4A state semifinals at Louisville Slugger Sports Complex in Peoria on Friday, June 7, 2024. (Rob Dicker / Daily Southtown)

Kyros also made the defensive play of the day in the top of the fourth, popping out from behind the plate to snare a bunt attempt and throw the runner out at first.

“I’ve done a million of those just practicing,” Kyros said. “Whenever I get a chance while I’m practicing catching, I always work on bunts. So I was prepared for it. I just had to stay calm.”

Kyros has had quite a freshman season. She’s hitting .351, with six doubles, three home runs and 22 RBIs.

Her proficiency behind the plate allowed Phelan to move Notre Dame recruit Caroline O’Brien to shortstop.

“Oh, my gosh, I’m really proud of Lexi,” Phelan said. “She handles so much adversity during a game behind the plate. We’ve had quite a few people this season try to pick up on our signs. We’re changing a lot of things really, really fast.

“But she is very smart girl and catches on almost as fast as I am to our changes. Lexi plays the game very relaxed and is really benefitting from that. She’s focused in, and she’s having fun.”

Marists Alexis Kyros (19) screams in joy after getting on base. Marist defeated Mundelein 7-1 in the Class 4A state semifinals at Louisville Slugger Sports Complex in Peoria, Friday, June 7, 2024. (Rob Dicker / Daily Southtown)).
Marists Lexi Kyros (19) reacts after getting on base against Mundelein during the Class 4A state semifinals at Louisville Slugger Sports Complex in Peoria on Friday, June 7, 2024. (Rob Dicker / Daily Southtown)

O’Brien gets a good view of it all from shortstop.

“From the start to the end, Lexi has grown so much,” O’Brien said of Kyros. “It’s very hard to come in and catch someone who has already won a state championship. But Lexi is such a team player and provides great attitude and good vibes. She has Gianna’s back.”

On top of that, Kyros knows where to look for her own pick-me-up.

“Caroline has helped me grow into the spot,” Kyros said. “She’s always helping me. Our eyes meet a million times during games. She’s telling me to make sure I’m getting that frame in, maybe changing something up.

“She notices everything I’m doing, and she really helps me out. She has taught me how to be there for Marist. Be the catcher for Marist. Take charge. Be a leader.”

Tony Baranek is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.

Source link