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Softball district-opener win leads Chillicothe HS' Tuesday showing

Chillicothe (Mo.) diamond girls splatter Benton 15-0 in three innings. Soccer Hornets rally in second half, win 2-1. Volleyball falls back below .500

Paul Sturm
Chillicothe News
Sophomore Bre Pithan of the 2020 Chillicothe (Mo.) HS softball Lady Hornets swings at a third-inning pitch she'd ground into center field for a game-concluding, run-scoring single which game her team a 15-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning against St. Joseph: Benton Tuesday, Oct. 13. The CHS victory, its 15th in its last 16 games, moves it into the district-tournament semifinals against Macon Thursday.
  • Softball Lady Hornets post 15th win of season and 15th in last 16 games
  • CHS diamond girls will play Macon in district semifinals Thursday night
  • Drake Cosgrove's two second-half goals lift soccer Hornets past St. Joseph: Lafayette

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor

Chillicothe (Mo.) HS’ softball Lady Hornets were rude hosts as they opened Class 3 District 8 Tournament play Tuesday, Oct. 13.

On a day which had seen the soccer Hornets come back from a 1-0 halftime to nip visiting St. Joseph: Benton and CHS’ volleyball varsity drop a non-conference match at St. Joseph Christian in straight games, the diamond Lady Hornets were ruthlessly efficient as they routed St. Joseph: Benton 15-0 in three innings.

The softball win sets up a Chillicothe-Macon rematch in the semifinals at approximately 7 p.m. Thursday at Daryl Danner Memorial Park’s red field. The other semifinal pairing will have top seed Kirksville against No. 4 seed Savannah in a 5 p.m. clash of 1-loss teams. Savannah topped Cameron 7-0 Tuesday, while Kirksville had a quarterfinals bye.

Macon’s Tigerettes, who topped CHS 6-3 at Macon Oct. 1, advanced to the semis with a 12-0 trashing of St. Joseph: Lafayette Tuesday.

Lady Hornets hit on all cylinders in blasting Benton

CHILLICOTHE — It wasn’t quite a “perfect” performance by the Chillicothe softball squad as it started postseason play on its home diamond Tuesday, but it will do until the real thing comes along.

Playing as the home team, the Lady Hornets scored in each inning – including a 6-runs first and 8-runs second, out-hit Benton 16-1, and played errorless defense as they improved their 2020 record to 15-5 with their second “run-rule” dispatch of the Lady Cardinals in five nights.

Highlighting Chillicothe’s performance were the exploits of two sophomores.

Second baseman Bre Pithan went three for three, including a 2-runs triple, with four runs batted in and two scored.

Pitcher Kinlei Boley (10-2) allowed only one hit and one baserunner – a 2-outs single in the second inning after a 7-pitches duel. She threw only 37 total pitches – 30 for strikes or balls put in play, meaning she should be plenty fresh for Thursday’s tough contest with the Tigerettes.

For good measure, yet another 10th grader, Hope Helton was three for three, as well, with two RBI.

Of Chillicothe’s 16 hits, five were for extra bases – three doubles and two triples.

During the game, Boley’s run-scoring groundout in the second inning left her with 34 runs batted in for the year, tying the program record set by Sarah Baldwin about 10 years ago.

CHS junior center fielder and leadoff hitter Sophia Luetticke scored twice, further extending the team mark she broke the night before. With her pair of Tuesday tallies, Luetticke has dented the dish 38 times in 2020, four more than Samantha Baldwin’s former CHS standard.

Sophia Luetticke, junior center fielder and leadoff hitter for the 2020 Chillicothe (Mo.) HS softball Lady Hornets strides toward home plate as she scores the first run of CHS' 15-0 3-innings victory over St. Joseph: Benton in the Class 3 District 8 Tournament quarterfinals in Chillicothe Tuesday, Oct. 13. Later scoring a second time, Luetticke had become the Lady Hornets' single-season record holder for runs scored in a season the night before when she scored the first of her two runs in a win over Trenton, eclipsing the record of 34 previously set by Samantha Baldwin.

Luetticke also is stalking the single-season Chillicothe record for hits, collecting her 42nd of the year Tuesday. That’s three shy of the mark established by Carole Jo Myers and subsequently tied by Sar. Baldwin.

Thursday’s do-or-die duel with Macon (15-4) will give the Lady Hornets not only the chance to advance to the district championship game, but to atone for the previous loss at Macon’s field.

The prior clash saw, with CHS on a 10-games winning streak, a 1-1 tie through 4-1/2 innings. Macon then poked a hole in with a 4-runs fifth and held on.

Chillicothe out-hit the Tigerettes 9-5, but made the game’s only three errors, leading to five of the six MHS tallies being unearned.

CHS pitched its capable reserve hurlers – Mollie Ellis and Halle Rucker – that day. The Tigerettes used their apparent ace, who Luetticke had a perfect 4-for-4 day against with the bat.

Each side enters the rematch as its respective conference’s champion – Chillicothe in the Midland Empire and Macon in the Clarence Cannon.

Senior Mason Baxter of the 2020 Chillicothe (Mo.) HS soccer Hornets leaps above a group of St. Joseph: Lafayette players to get his head on Ben Cueni-Smith's first-half corner kick Tuesday, Oct. 13, in Chillicothe. Although this Baxter header was saved, eventually the Hornets broke through with two goals in the second half to edge Lafayette, 2-1.

Cosgrove delivers in clutch for CHS booters

CHILLICOTHE — Trailing 1-nil at halftime, due to backline miscommunication which let St. Joseph: Lafayette’s Kevin King get a clear shot from about 20 yards out in front of the net, the Chillicothe High soccer Hornets continued doing the things which had given them a territorial edge in play in the opening 40 minutes and got their just reward.

Resuming their pressure on the Fighting Irish defense following intermission, the Hornets – and leading scorer Drake Cosgrove – at last found the range twice in an 8:10 span inside the first 21 minutes of the second segment to post a 2-1 non-conference home win.

When Lafayette’s only solution to another CHS threat about seven minutes into the second half was to clear the ball over its end line and allow the Hornets a corner kick, Cosgrove delivered a textbook solution.

With the ball in the offensive left corner, the junior forward stroked it high toward the front of the LHS net with his right foot.

The technique Cosgrove used caused the ball’s path to curve, bending it back ever closer to the goal line as it sailed a few feet over the head of the LHS goalkeeper, who had positioned himself in the standard position at his goal line and about five yards inside the goal post nearest the corner from which the ball was approaching.

With the goalkeeper beaten, the questions became whether the ball would curve enough soon enough to cross the goal line before being beyond the far goalpost and, if it did, whether any Lafayette player would intercept its flight path before it crossed the line.

The answer to the former query was, “Yes.” When the second answer came up, “No,” Cosgrove’s exquisite kick hit into the netting with a couple of yards to spare, leveling the score at 1-1 after 52:42.

The hosts continued to press the offensive issue and – after some other threats fizzled at the last moment or were turned aside by the Irish netminder, who played splendidly to prevent what could have been several more CHS tallies – midway through the final half executed perfectly on a high-skill-level sequence to notch the match-winner.

Senior forward Mason Baxter, while continuing to  suffer from tough goal-scoring luck despite multiple excellent opportunities to find the twine, shifted to playmaker mode to pave the way to the second Chillicothe goal.

Using his speed to get behind the LHS left back once more and then crafty footwork and shifty moves to maintain control of the ball as he worked from the deep right corner toward the Lafayette goal along the goal line, Baxter understood his shooting angle to get the ball on net and past the goalkeeper wasn’t good.

Instead of trying to finish himself, he waited until the opportune moment to drive a sharp, rising, right-footed centering pass into the 7-yards-deep goalie box.

Reading his teammate’s mind perfectly, Cosgrove flashed into the open space where Baxter had directed the ball and, on the move toward the goal, bent forward just enough to have the ball hit the upper part of his head and zip sharply into the Lafayette net at 60:51. His 10th goal of the year on the professional-caliber play and execution put Chillicothe in front 2-1 and that’s how it stayed.

Although Lafayette had a few forays into the danger zone in front of the CHS cage, one of which resulted in a short-side shot which CHS goalkeeper Jaxon Albertson’s positioning helped influence to go wide right, Chillicothe wisely continued to spend plenty of time trying to increase its lead. Having the ball spend most of its time in the middle third of Bob Fairchild Field or in the LHS defensive third made protecting the 1-goal lead pretty easy for Albertson, who was credited with only one save all match.

“Fantastic second half after a frustrating first half,” reacted Tim Cunningham, Chillicothe head coach after his team won its fifth in a row to improve to 6-3. “The guys showed a lot of character and determination.” 

Chillicothe’s junior-varsity players won the “B” match 3-1, Cunningham shares, with two goals by junior Aidan Zimmerman and one from Jacob Adams.

The soccer Hornets’ next match is due to be Thursday against St. Joseph: Benton at the Spring Garden Middle School field at 5 p.m. That will be a MEC match.

Volleyball Lady Hornets stymied at St. Joseph

ST. JOSEPH — One night after crushing a smaller school’s team, the Chillicothe High volleyball Lady Hornets were reminded size isn’t everything.

Visiting small St. Joseph Christian Tuesday, the CHS squad wasn’t much of a factor as the Lady Lions rolled to a 25-12, 25-13, 25-22 straight-games verdict.

Raising its game too late to extend the action to a fourth game, Chillicothe (6-7) was led on offense on the evening by nine assists apiece from Jessica Reeter and Maya Snyder and Essie Hicks’ seven “kills” (spikes). On defense, Makayla Vance had nine “digs.”

Chillicothe did win the very tight junior-varsity match 25-23, 26-24. Kayanna Cranmer, a CHS freshman, had a team-best six “kills” and five service points won.

The CHS spikers next are to host Maryville in league play Thursday.