Behind Kennedy Corzette's four runs batted in, scored five runs in each of first two innings Wednesday (Oct. 16, 2019) to muzzle Marshall in five in Class 3 district semifinal. Will meet top seed Kirksville at 6 p.m. Thursday (Oct. 17) at Moberly in rematch of last year's district-title game KHS rallied to win 8-4
MOBERLY, Mo. — Behind continued hot hitting by senior Kennedy Corzette and the strongest pitching outing of the season by sophomore righthander Halle Rucker, fives were very popular for Chillicothe High School’s softball Lady Hornets Wednesday night (Oct. 16, 2019), keeping alive very slender hopes of a fifth-straight winning season.
Turning the page psychologically from an often-disappointing 8-10 regular season they expected to be far more successful, the CHS diamond girls advanced to their district tournament’s championship game for a fourth-consecutive year by bombing Marshall 12-2 in five innings, thanks to a pair of 5-runs innings.
The title game will take place tonight (Thursday, Oct. 17) at the Moberly High School field with a rematch of the 2018 championship combatants. Second-seeded Chillicothe will square off with top-seeded Kirksville to see which moves on to state play next week.
Last year at Marshall, Kirksville broke the Lady Hornets’ hearts with a 5-runs outburst in the bottom of the sixth inning, erasing a 4-3 lead CHS had just taken in the top half of that inning and winning by that 8-4 margin.
The two squads were scheduled to meet in the opening round of “pool play” in this year’s Chillicothe Invitational Tournament on Sept. 28, but rain forced the event to be cancelled.
Wednesday’s triumph, shortened by the 10-runs-lead rule provision (just as was Kirksville’s subsequent 11-0 semifinals victory over Moberly), featured crooked-number innings by Chillicothe in each of the first two frames, both highlighted by Corzette extra-base blows.
The senior center fielder, batting seventh in the lineup, stepped into the batter’s box with the bases full, CHS ahead 2-0, and two outs in the bottom of the first inning.
In perhaps the game’s seminal moment, the Marshall pitcher got a quick 2-strikes count on the CHS righthanded hitter. Corzette, however, fouled off the next two deliveries before the fifth pitch she saw was one she could time and handle.
Corzette ripped a drive to deep center field that cleared the outfielder’s glove, scoring not only Mika Hibner from third base and Brooke Horton from second, but also Kiley Kirkpatrick from first. One swing of the bat had turned a 2-0 game into a major 5-0 margin for Chillicothe.
The big inning had its origins in the Marshall starting pitcher’s trouble in throwing strikes. She dealt out 1-out walks to Jordan Hibner and Abby Jones to ignite a tiny flame. After those two pulled a double-steal, M. Hibner singled to left to score the game’s first run.
A. Jones then scored from third when the Lady Owls failed to retire anyone on Horton’s ball hit right back to the pitcher. That missed opportunity for an out became pivotal when, after the next batter was retired for only the second out – not the would-have-been third, it gave Corzette a chance to swing the bat in the inning.
Wisely, considering its pitching and fielding struggles down the stretch in the regular season, Chillicothe stayed on the attack in its second at-bat.
A. Jones singled home Sophia Luetticke, who went three for four with two runs scored and two stolen bases, M. Hibner knocked in J. Hibner with a single, an error let A. Jones cross the dish, Kirkpatrick smacked a sacrifice fly, and Corzette – again with two down – pounded another double, this time to left, to drive in Lexi Walker.
It turned out Rucker (3-5), the losing pitcher in relief as a freshman in last year’s district-finals loss to Kirksville, didn’t need that much run support to advance her team to this year’s final.
Consistently and wisely – considering the big early lead – throwing strikes to force MHS to hit its way on base, she surrendered only four hits and did not walk anyone, sharply limiting Marshall’s prospects for mounting a rally. The Lady Owls stranded only one runner in addition to the two they plated.
“We played great in all facets of the game,” CHS head coach Mike Jones commented. “We came out with lots of energy, hit the ball, ran the bases, and Halle pitched a great game!”
Statistically for CHS Wednesday, in addition to Corzette’s four RBI and two hits, M. Hibner joined Luetticke in stroking three hits.