Slam four over fence – two by Abby Jones, one each by Brooke Horton and Mika Hibner – in 18-8 2019 debut win over Lawson Thursday, Sept. 5
CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — With most of the lineup that produced big offensive numbers in 2018 back for 2019, the Chillicothe High School softball Lady Hornets double-underlined their offensive potential in Thursday’s (Sept. 5) season opener.
Three Lady Hornets left the Daryl Danner Memorial Park “red” field yard a combined four times, capped by a walk-off roundtripper as Chillicothe swatted aside the visiting Lawson Lady Cardinals 18-8 in six innings.
“We hit the ball very well for our first time on the field (in competition) this year,” CHS head coach Mike Jones understated after his club debuted with half of their 14 hits going for extra bases.
Leading the onslaught, as expected, was senior shortstop and No. 3 hitter Abby Jones.
Struck out in her first at-bat, she made two Lawson hurlers pay the rest of the way.
She slipped a 2-runs home run just over the fence in left-center field during a decisive 9-runs CHS second inning, then followed a single in the third with a Lawson comeback-breaking 3-runs deep fly in the bottom of the fifth.
When A. Jones was retired in the sixth inning, the powder keg that this fall’s Lady Hornets lineup could be was highlighted in the form of sophomore cleanup hitter Mika Hibner’s game-terminating 2-runs shot over the center field fence.
In between A. Jones’ two circuit clouts, junior Brooke Horton hinted she might be ready to blossom into a major power threat, as well. She blasted a no-doubter well over the 200-foot barrier in straightaway left to cap Chillicothe’s huge second segment which left freshman starting pitcher Kinlei Boley with a double-digits lead to protect.
A disputed 2-runs double ruled just fair inside the right-field line was the only scoring Lawson’s Lady Cardinals did against the strong righthanded ninth grader, who came close to going deep in her first high school at-bat – rattling a double off the base of the fence in left.
Coach Jones switched Boley from the pitcher’s circle to first base after four innings of 4-hits, 3-walks ball.
Although Lawson cuffed sophomore reliever Mollie Ellis for six runs in less than two innings, only two were earned as CHS fielders made their only two errors of the contest behind her. Sophomore Halie Rucker, who shared last year’s pitching duties with Ellis, eventually came in to get the last out of the top of the sixth.
After the Lady Hornets seized the massive lead after two frames, the game seemed destined to end on the 10-runs-lead rule in five innings.
However, down 11-2 after four, Lawson got a couple of runs across in the top of the fifth after Ellis retired the first two batters she faced. After the inning was extended by an error, a couple more hits – six consecutive Lady Cardinals reached with two outs – left the Chillicothe lead at a shakier four runs, 11-7.
With a possible eighth LHS run at second base, the Lady Cardinals’ No. 9 batter looked to have pulled her team even closer when she lashed a fly ball into the left-center field gap. However, senior center fielder Kennedy Corzette covered a bunch of ground to chase it down and make a superb backhand catch on the dead run, ending the inning with CHS still up by four.
A. Jones’ second homer in the bottom of the inning immediately mitigated most of the damage Lawson had done in the top half and a series of fielding errors by the guests eventually allowed Chillicothe to match LHS’ 5-spot. That set the stage for Hibner’s game-ender the next inning.
Joining A. Jones in collecting three hits in Chillicothe’s 2019 debut was senior second baseman Jordan Hibner, who also had three runs driven in and three scored. She also joined Corzette in providing highlight defense, ranging well to her left to get to a high-bouncer over first baseman M. Hibner’s head and then making a twisting throw for the out to end the top of the second inning when it still was 1-0.
Additional multi-hits games for Chillicothe were posted by Luetticke and M. Hibner. The Lady Hornets finished with a 14-9 advantage in hits.
The softball Lady Hornets’ next action is slated to be its Midland Empire Conference opener at St. Joseph: Lafayette Tuesday.