For second year in a row, one big inning by Kirksville – this time an 8-runs third – dooms CHS to district-finals loss Thursday (Oct. 17, 2019)
MOBERLY, Mo. — A year earlier, the Kirksville (Mo.) HS softball Lady Tigers crushed the Chillicothe Lady Hornets’ hearts in the Class 3 District 15 Tournament championship game with one big inning at nearly the last moment – a 5-runs bottom of the sixth that turned a 4-3 CHS lead into a season-halting 8-4 setback.
Thursday (Oct. 17, 2019), at a different venue, a huge inning early by Kirksville produced the same ultimate outcome.
After Chillicothe’s tandem of Kennedy Corzette and Sophia Luetticke had balanced off a KHS first-inning run fueled by two Lady Hornets infield errors with a leadoff double and 1-out, run-scoring single in the top of the third, top-seeded Kirksville did just what it had a year earlier – immediately answer a Chillicothe jab with multiple haymakers.
Their slim lead gone, the Lady Tigers put 7-straight batters on base against two CHS pitchers in the home half of the third, eventually burying Chillicothe under an 8-runs blizzard on their way to a 9-2 triumph.
The defeat – CHS’ third year in a row of dropping the district-championship contest – ended a Lady Hornets season anticipated with great promise with a 9-11 record. It’s the first time in head coach Mike Jones’ five years at the helm that they’d finished below .500.
“It is certainly a disappointing way to end a promising season,” the coach commented in remarks sent to local media after Thursday’s loss.
The contest went south quickly on Chillicothe.
After her teammates tied the game in the top half of the third, losing pitcher Halle Rucker immediately retired the leadoff batter in the Kirksville lineup to begin the bottom half. It would be the last out she’d get in that stint in the pitcher’s circle.
A walk, a steal, and a single put Kirksville back in front before the Lady Tigers’ first baseman and cleanup batter Sophie Stuart – her team’s pitcher in last year’s title win – pounded an 0-2 pitch over the center field fence to make it 4-1.
CHS senior Abby Jones was moved from shortstop to pitcher after that, but couldn’t slow the KHS train. Before she got the last two outs of the inning, she had surrendered a bases-full walk, a 2-runs, 2-outs single, and a RBI double right after that.
With only Corzette and Luetticke having any success with the bat on the night, Chillicothe never came close to mounting a comeback over the final four innings, even though Kirksville never added on when Rucker returned to do the pitching at the start of the fourth.
The only scoring after the third segment cam in the fifth when Corzette again led off with a double and Luetticke once more brought her home with a 1-out single.
Corzette closed her CHS diamond career in a blaze of glory, stroking hits in eight of her last nine at-bats over the final three games. She was five for six with four doubles in the Lady Hornets’ two district games and probably left Kirksville wondering how anyone ever gets her out. In last year’s district final, she had smacked two hits in three at-bats with only an outstanding play by the KHS third baseman in her final at-bat denying her a perfect night then.
Aside from the four hits Corzette and Luetticke produced Thursday, Chillicothe had only two other hits and Kirksville played errorless defense. The repeat champions out-hit CHS 9-6.