After 13 days absence from game action, CHS Lady Hornets were polished, not rusty, on both offense and defense Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2018, as they blasted Boonville 14-4 in the semifinals of the Class 3 District 15 Tournament at Marshall. Abby Jones had a home run, three hits, and four runs batted in to lead the 20-hits offense
MARSHALL, Mo. — For a third year in a row, the Chillicothe High School softball Lady Hornets will play for a district championship Thursday. They’ll do it at the same site where they qualified to advance to state two years ago.
Early yesterday (Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2018) evening, the Lady Hornets (11-8) showed themselves to be well-rested, not rusty, on both offense and defense after a 13-days layoff from game play, walloping the Boonville Lady Pirates 14-4 in a Class 3 District 15 Tournament semifinal game shortened by the 10-runs-lead rule.
When top-seeded Kirksville followed with a narrow 8-7 win over host Marshall, the lowest seed in the 5-teams tournament, the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds were set as the combatants in Thursday’s scheduled 6 p.m. championship game at the Marshall High field.
Chillicothe and Kirksville have not played previously this season.
Two years ago at Marshall, the Lady Hornets edged Marshall for the district crown and advancement to state-tournament play. Last year at Boonville, Marshall turned the tables to take the title. Now, CHS head coach Mike Jones’ 2018 squad will see a fresh foe across the field with the championship at stake.
The weather is predicted to be clear, but quite cool, with a game-time temperature of about 50 degrees.
Cool conditions and a flooding-forced roundabout route to Marshall – the normally hour-long trip required two hours Wednesday and could again Thursday, depending on whether flooding has diminished and U.S. Highway 65 has been reopened four miles south of Chillicothe.
In Wednesday’s CHS win over Boonville, the Lady Hornets erased a 2-1 deficit in the bottom of the second inning with a 4-runs frame, then pulled away from what had become a 5-4 contest with nine runs combined in the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings to close things out an inning early.
Ahead 10-4 after 5-1/2, the Lady Hornets had one of their customary big innings that produced three 2-outs tallies to jump their lead up to a game-halting 10 in the home sixth.
With two outs and a run in for an 11-4 margin, Kylie Kirkpatrick singled in Kennedy Corzette to bring the potential game-ending run to the plate. Freshman Halle Rucker, who relieved starter and winner Mollie Ellis in the fifth, singled Kirkpatrick to third.
Libby Adkins slapped a hit to shallow left field to drive in the 13th CHS run and move Rucker into scoring position. Lexi Walker’s hit down the left field line then delivered the run that terminated play.
Chillicothe’s tide-turning second inning saw 2-outs thunder in full force.
With two away and a runner at first with Boonville up 2-1, Adkins’ swinging third strike eluded the catcher and left runners at first and second bases for Walker. Serving as the extra hitter for this game, the sophomore made the Lady Pirates pay, ripping a 2-runs double to center field that put CHS ahead for the first – and only, it turned out – time.
The Lady Hornets didn’t settle for just that 3-2 lead, though. Junior shortstop and No. 3 hitter Abby Jones followed Walker’s lead by driving the ball to center field, but she elevated hers enough to launch it over the fence for a 2-runs home run. The dropped third strike had mushroomed into a 4-runs inning for Chillicothe.
After Boonville crept back into tight contention with two fourth-inning markers, the CHS offense rebooted, yet again with two outs.
An inning-opening walk to Ellis was on the verge of being squandered as she stood at third base with two outs. However, standing at the plate again was A. Jones, who jumped the first pitch to her for another rip to center field, this time a bit toward right-center. By the time Boonville got the ball back in, the CHS batter was pulling into third base with a RBI triple, making it 6-4.
Freshman catcher Mika Hibner inflated the cushion a bit more with a run-scoring hit to left-center before scampering all the way home as Jordan Hibner followed with a double to center.
Chillicothe tacked on another pair in the fifth, this time by striking at the inning’s outset.
Freshman right fielder Sophia Luetticke shot a hit to right leading off and took third on an error on Kirkpatrick’s single to right. After Kirkpatrick stole second without a throw, as Boonville tried to freeze Luetticke at third base, Rucker whacked a 2-runs single to right to increase her elbow room to six runs at 10-4.
Statistically for Chillicothe in Wednesday’s win, A. Jones and Walker swung the biggest, baddest bats. Jones, who singled home Adkins with CHS’ first-inning run that offset Boonville’s quick run off Ellis (7-4), finished three for four with four runs batted in. Walker drove in three runs with her two hits.
Adkins and J. Hibner each collected three hits and four other Lady Hornets – M. Hibner, Rucker, Kirkpatrick, and Luetticke – stroked two each as Chillicothe strafed Boonville pitching for a season-best 20 hits.
Ellis surrendered eight hits and four runs – all earned – in her four innings to qualify as the winner. Rucker earned her first save with two scoreless, hitless innings.
While they handed out three walks between them – an unusually-high number for them this season, they were backed by errorless defense.
“We hit the ball great and played a game with no errors!,” coach M. Jones enthused. “The girls are playing good ball right now. The only thing in our way now is Kirksville.”