Softball: Kiyah Chavez’s record-setting day leads Oswego past Yorkville to first regional title since 1987

Iowa commit gets program record 55th hit, Jaelynn Anthony strikes out eight in 9-1 win

Oswego celebrates their win over Yorkville in the Class 4A Oswego Regional final softball game. May 24th, 2024.

OSWEGO – Kiyah Chavez doesn’t mind hearing the thought that the Oswego junior catcher was a bit of an under-the-radar talent before this season for a player with a Division I scholarship.

Chavez played JV as a freshman. Then she missed the second half of last season with torn muscles in her thumb.

“All I wanted to do is play, to show people what I can do,” Chavez said. “I didn’t get as much of a chance as I’d like to.”

A sensational summer caught colleges’ eyes, and Chavez ended up committing to Iowa. It carried right into a breakout spring.

That became historic Friday.

Chavez broke Oswego’s single-season hit record with her 55th, a rocket run-scoring double in the first inning. The Panthers rolled from there to a 9-1 win over Yorkville in the Class 4A Oswego Regional final, the program’s first regional title since 1987.

“It’s really cool, it’s going to be in the school forever,” Chavez said. “Every athlete wants to make history. It’s amazing. It’s something we’ve talked about for a while.”

Jaelynn Anthony struck out eight, ending the game with six straight shutout innings, and Oswego (25-9) broke the game open by batting around in a five-run fifth inning. The Panthers advance to face the Wheaton Warrenville South-Neuqua Valley winner in a sectional semifinal on Wednesday at Plainfield North.

Oswego's Kiyah Chavez (10) looks at her fly out during Class 4A Oswego Regional final softball game between Yorkville at Oswego. May 24th, 2024.

Oswego thought it had the team last year to break its regional drought. That team won 23 games, a program record broken this week.

Losing Chavez hurt. An upset loss in a regional semifinal to West Aurora stung, and to Chavez so did not being a part of it.

“It’s something I thought about a lot,” Chavez said. “Is it worse to play, or not be a part of it? I didn’t get to show people what I could do.”

She sure has this year.

Chavez is hitting .509 with 12 of Oswego’s 44 homers, tied for tops with Anthony, and 42 runs batted in. Her double over the center fielder scored Kaylee LaChappell, as it took Oswego three batters to erase Yorkville’s early 1-0 lead.

“I feel blessed,” Chavez said. “I have a great support system, wonderful teammates, so many people in my corner. It makes it hard to fail. I knew I was planning to be successful this season, but I didn’t think it would be quite like this.”

Chavez carries a big bat, and she also brings swagger to the field, both in the batter’s box and behind the plate. She switched from basketball to wrestling this past winter, was a sectional qualifier and came a win from state.

“She’s just an athlete,” Anthony said.

Anthony’s sacrifice fly scored Marissa Moffett to make it 2-1 in the first, and Anthony took it from there in the circle.

She scattered four hits the rest of the way, with three perfect innings. Anthony overpowered Yorkville’s hitters with her hard stuff up, sprinkling in the occasional changeup. After walking a batter and hitting one in the first, Anthony didn’t issue any free passes the rest of the way.

“I knew after the first inning they were going to score at least one. I just had to stop them at one, and we’d score and that’s what I did,” said Anthony, who also had two hits at the plate. “They had a hard time hitting outside high. Just trust my rise and hope they swing through it.”

Oswego celebrates with the Class 4A Oswego Regional final plaque after defeating Yorkville.  May 24th, 2024

Moffett singled in Natalie Muellner in the second, and Rikka Ludvigson added an RBI single in the third. Ludvigson doubled in a run, Aubriella Garza singled one in and Muellner doubled in two more in the fifth.

The regional championship was 37 years in the making, but a priority that Oswego coach Paul Netzel said his girls identified from Day 1.

“They’ve been shooting for that all year,” Netzel said “The girls made it up in their mind to go after it. They took it upon themselves to do what they needed to do.”

Yorkville (18-18) made its own history last year, second place in Class 4A, but this was a new season and a new team. Sophomore catcher Kayla Kersting, one of just two starters back from that team, missed the last two weeks with a thumb injury.

“When you have someone that played for you last year and started, of course it hurts,” Yorkville coach Jory Regnier said. “But I don’t think the coaches and players thought anything less. Bella [Phillips] caught five games this season, stepped up and said I’ll do it. Those are things that define our program.”

Purdue recruit Jensen Krantz, the other returning starter, walked and scored Yorkville’s only run in the first, and singled in the third. Regan Bishop had two hits.

“We had a ton of kids that got experience this year,” Regnier said. “Today wasn’t our day, but there are a lot of things we can take away from this game. A lot to learn through this experience. We’re proud of the progress we made.”