Best Hamilton by 41 behind Jones' 40. Softball Lady Hornets have near-miss at Kirksville

CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — Chillicothe High School’s golf Lady Hornets on Monday (Aug. 31) became the second CHS girls’ sports team to inaugurate its 2020 season, hosting and winning a dual match with Hamilton: Penney.
Behind 2019 state-tournament medalist Hallie Jones’ 40, CHS’ links Lady Hornets carded a low-4 team score of 222, 41 strokes ahead of Penney’s Lady Hornets.
Also participating in the match at Chillicothe’s municipally-owned Green Hills Golf Course were two Southwest Livingston Lady Wildcats. Makenna Campbell of SLHS, also a Class 1 state tournament participant a year ago, fired the match’s second-best 9-holes round, a 51.
While Chillicothe’s golfers got their new season started, the tennis Lady Hornets were thwarted in their attempt to do the same. Their scheduled home match against Kirksville was called off, due to wet courts, following an early-afternoon rain.
Out of town, the CHS softball team came within one swing of the bat of topping the foe which has ended its season in the Class 3 district tournament finals the past two years, falling 5-4 at Kirksville.
That game, which dropped their record to 0-3, ended with the diamond Lady Hornets having scored once in the top of the seventh inning and with the bases loaded.
Defending Midland Empire Conference individual golf champion Jones was, with the exception of the third hole, “really dialed in,” new CHS coach Darren Smith opined, as she fired the third-best dual-match round of her outstanding career.
Only an uncharacteristic eight on the third hole denied the Chillicothe senior the third sub-40 dual round of her prep career. Aside from that blip, Jones put either a three, four, or five on her scorecard the other eight holes.
While she was in fine form, one of the Lady Hornets’ three brand-new players and their other returnee from 2019 showed promise of being capable players this season.
Junior Brooklyn Williams and sophomore newcomer Skyler Powers posted matching 56s, the third-lowest scores of the match.
Rounding out Chillicothe’s scoring with 70s in their competition debuts were junior Abbey Hayen and sophomore Maddie Ellis, Smith reports.
“I was very pleased with the effort from all of our girls,” the new coach praised. “Great job, especially for the first time out for three of our girls.”
Last year, the golf Lady Hornets were involved in dual-match team scoring only once – a close loss to Lawson, due to a shortage of players. For most of the final six weeks of the season, they had only three players.
Hamilton’s best of four rounds Monday was a 61 by Somers Finch. Southwest Livingston’s Lily Webb posted a 61, as well.
The Chillicothe golf girls are to compete in Tuesday’s Maryville Invitational Tournament before hosting Trenton and Putnam County in a double-dual Thursday.
On the softball diamond at Kirksville Monday, Chillicothe nearly erased a 4-1 deficit in the final two innings, but a 2-outs KHS tally in the bottom of the sixth allowed the Lady Tigers, 2-times defending district champions, to hang on.
Having plated a pair of runs in the top of the sixth on extra hitter Mika Hibner’s single and right fielder Mollie Ellis’ 2-outs, bases-full walk, CHS needed two more in the seventh to make Kirksville bat again.
The Lady Hornets quickly got one on Sophia Luetticke’s leadoff single and Kirsten Dunn’s 1-out single to center field. Sophomore Dunn alertly zipped into second base when the KHS center fielder unwisely threw home trying to get Luetticke.
A strikeout followed, but Hibner waited out a walk, as did Brooke Horton, loading the bases. However, with the potential tying run at third, Kirksville winning pitcher Audrey Danielson got a game-ending strikeout with her 113th pitch of the contest.
“We put ourselves in a position at the end to have a chance to tie or take the lead,” CHS head coach Lee Rucker assessed. “For a young team, it’s important to keep battling and not give up until the end.”
Chillicothe scored first in the game. Ellis doubled down the left field line to begin the third inning and was bunted to third by freshman Jolie Bonderer. Ellis scored then as Luetticke grounded out.
Kirksville immediately countered with four singles in its third and, with the help of a steal and the contest’s lone error, four runs off CHS sophomore starting and losing pitcher Kinlei Boley, who went the distance.
Led by Dunn’s 3-for-3 and Hibner’s 3-for-4 performances and Ellis going one for two with a walk, a run scored, and a RBI, the Lady Hornets out-hit the hosts 9-6. However, KHS stranded only two runners, while Chillicothe left nine aboard.
“We are improving each day,” coach Rucker said. “Playing tough opponents early is preparing us for our conference schedule.”
The CHS softball squad (0-3) is slated to host its home opener at Daryl Danner Memorial Park Tuesday (Sept. 1) at 4:30 p.m. against East Buchanan.