Host St. Joseph: Central posted 10-2, 12-2 victories in Saturday (Aug. 29) action recently added to schedule to replace COVID-19-prompted tourney cancellatios

ST. JOSEPH — Chillicothe (Mo.) High School’s softball Lady Hornets couldn’t have asked for a much-better start to their first game of the 2020 season Saturday, Aug. 29. However, it didn’t last.
Getting singles from its first two batters – Sophia Luetticke and Hope Helton, a sacrifice fly from Kirsten Dunn, and a run-scoring ground ball that was booted for an error from cleanup hitter Kinlei Boley, the Lady Hornets seized a quick 2-0 lead over host St. Joseph: Central in the opener of a late-scheduled, season-opening doubleheader.
However, what looks poised to be a strong Central Lady Indians club allowed the Lady Hornets only two more runs the rest of the day and swept the twinbill, 10-2 and 1-2.
“Central is really solid defensively and they were very disciplined hitters,” assessed Lee Rucker, who made his Chillicothe head coaching debut in the double-dip.
“The results were obviously not what we were looking for, but it was good to play against a strong opponent right away to see what things we need to work on moving forward.”
The Lady Hornets’ quick lead lasted only into the second inning of game one when Central followed a first-inning tally off Chillicothe starting and losing pitcher Halle Rucker with a couple of clutch 2-outs hits and three runs.
Although the Lady Hornets had baserunners in every inning through the sixth, they never came around, allowing Central 3-runs frames in the fourth off reliever Boley and sixth off Mollie Ellis to put the 10 a.m. opener out of reach.
Chillicothe was only out-hit 12-8 in the debut, but it did hand out six walks. Each side made an error.
The second game saw Central play as the visiting team and it quickly touched starting and losing Chillicothe sophomore pitcher Boley for three hits, a walk, and two runs in the opening half-inning.
The Lady Hornets cut their deficit in half in the second when Boley drew a leadoff walk, courtesy runner Hadley Beemer advanced as Brooke Horton walked, and H. Rucker came up with a run-scoring hit to right-center.
However, a chance to tie or go in front was missed when, following Bre Pithan being hit by a pitch to load the bases with still one down, a pair of ground-ball outs let Central escape still up 2-1.
The Lady Indians then began to take firmer control, plating three runs in the top of the third and one in the fifth before icing their second triumph with a 4-runs sixth.
Chillicothe scored its last run in the bottom of the seventh on Luetticke’s 2-outs opposite-field single to left and Helton’s hit down the right-field line.
After tossing three innings in relief in game one, Boley worked the first five from the pitcher’s circle in the second game, allowing five runs in her start. H. Rucker finished up the finale. Central out-hit its guest 16-6 as it again scored in dual digits.
For a first outing, both sides did a good job of putting the ball in play. Game two saw each club strike out only once after the opener produced only six whiffs.
For the day, Chillicothe’s offense was led by its Nos. 1 and 2 batters. Luetticke and Helton each went three for eight with the latter driving in a run and scoring one and the former denting the dish twice. Boley went two for five with a walk and a run batted in and Rucker was two for six with a RBI.
With the way Central hit the ball, the Lady Hornets’ defense held up reasonably well, being charged with only three total errors in 14 innings.
Chillicothe’s softball girls are slated for another road trip, this one the opposite direction to Kirksville, for a 5 p.m. game Monday before hosting East Buchanan in their home opener Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.