Softball Player of the Year: Madi Reeves led Yorkville to greatest season ever, second place in Class 4A

Miami of Ohio recruit posted 25-2 record with 0.97 ERA and 346 strikeouts

Yorkville's Madi Reeves (2) reacts after ending the game with a strike out to win the 4A sectional championship against Wheaton Warrenville South at Oswego High School on Friday, June 2, 2023.

Madi Reeves was in the midst of the most grueling start of her high school career, pitches on her arm piling up, when she came to her Yorkville coach in the dugout with a pointed message.

Fatigued? Try again.

“I came in and told my coach I could do this all day,” Reeves said. “I wanted it that bad for my team. They gave me everything. I was going to give it back.”

Reeves indeed left it all in the circle. She threw 171 pitches in a stirring 13-inning Class 4A semifinal walk-off win over Oak Park-River Forest, a crowning achievement on the best season in Yorkville softball history, and was right back at it the next day.

The Foxes, with Reeves in the center of it all, went 36-3, finished second in Class 4A and made their program’s first state tournament appearance.

“I couldn’t have asked for anything better for that team,” Reeves said. “They gave everything they had. For us seniors, it was a great ride.”

Reeves put Yorkville softball on quite a ride for three years, after the pandemic canceled her freshman season.

The hard-throwing Miami of Ohio recruit struck out 18 batters in her third high school start, a harbinger of greatness to come. As a sophomore she led Yorkville to its first-ever sectional title, taking a perfect game into the seventh inning of a sectional final, and struck out 341 batters. Reeves’ encore junior year, Yorkville won at the time a program record 28 games.

She saved the best for last. Reeves this year posted a 25-2 record and 0.97 ERA with 346 strikeouts over 180 innings. She threw a 10-strikeout one-hitter in the sectional final and 16-strikeout three-hitter in the supersectional. Reeves finished three-year varsity career with 936 strikeouts.

She is the Record Newspapers Player of the Year for the third straight season.

“From the moment she stepped on the field as a sophomore she made a name for herself and it continued to build and build,” Yorkville coach Jory Regnier said. “She has broken every pitching record that we could probably have in regards to our school. She will always now be the standard, the person that people will try to reach, the person that people are constantly chasing to be as good as, pitcher talent-wise.”

Reeves during travel season plays for the highly-regarded Beverly Bandits softball program, with teammates from four states. But she cherishes putting her home town on the map for softball. She often listens to the song “Hometown” by Kane Brown with words that inspire her.

“My favorite line is where it says ‘I want to make my hometown proud,’” Reeves said. “We got a big sendoff when we went to state. Being able to come home, knowing we did it for everybody, is really cool. I had a lot of little girls come up to me. It made me fall in love with what I was doing and who I was doing it for.”

Yorkville’s Madi Reeves delivers a pitch against Marist in the Class 4A state championship game on Saturday, June 10, 2023 in Peoria.

Regnier has grown to know the dual sides of Reeves’ personality. Outside the lines she can be a goofy, light-hearted teenage girl. She is a ferocious competitor inside the circle.

Fusing those two identities has molded Reeves into an even better pitcher.

“If she felt pressure, our team felt pressure,” Regnier said. “When she showed up in those tense situations and moments and turned around and told her teammates ‘Great play, thanks for having my back’ that picked up her team. Those moments were how she grew in a different way. These girls are not all just best friends, but you would never know it by the way they play for one another. Madi is a huge part, that I would do anything for any girl. There is no doubt she bought into it.”

Reeves is driven by those who doubt her. Proving people wrong is motivation for her to get better. Reeves has learned to pitch with tunnel vision during her starts, using a phrase ‘clear the mechanics’ that she and her dad heard in a movie.

“I take it pitch by pitch. If there is a team or parents chanting or taunting me, I just block everything out,” Reeves said. “Most of the time my teammates will cheer me and when we’re coming in the dugout they’ll ask if I heard their cheer and I’m like ‘Not at all.’ I just keep focused.”

Reeves’ next focus is to make a difference at the collegiate level. She committed to Miami with the knowledge she could start right away. Reeves looks forward to the changes her coaches will introduce to make her a better player, and realizes that she could get worse before she gets better.

“I think she is going to do great things at the next level,” Regnier said. “Talent-wise, she is ready.”