Chillicothe (Mo.) HS baseball, girls' soccer squads fall in 2021 season openers Friday (March 19)

Baseball Hornets can't hold late lead, fall at Savannah 7-5. Soccer Lady Hornets blanked 6-0 at home by Sedalia

Paul Sturm
Chillicothe News
Junior Allison Ishmael, midfielder for the Chillicothe High School soccer Lady Hornets, plays a ball before Sedalia's Emily Ramirez can get to it, all under the watchful gaze of the referee, during the second half of Friday's season opener for both teams at Jerry Litton Memorial Stadium II in Chillicothe. Ishmael, her right knee damaged and necessitating reconstructive surgery late in her freshman season in 2019 and supported by a large brace in her first match since, left the game limping on that right leg after a collision during the first half, but fortunately was well enough to return to the action, which ended with Sedalia a 6-0 victor.

There were some positives for both Chillicothe (Mo.) High School's baseball and girls' soccer teams in their first competitions in nearly two years Friday (March 19, 2021), but not enough for either to put a mark in the "wins" column.

The baseball Hornets, in Joshua Lisle's debut as head coach, used a run in the fourth inning and three in the top of the fifth to overcome a 3-0 deficit at Savannah, but did not preserve that 4-3 lead, allowing four SHS tallies in the bottom of the sixth to fall 7-5.

At about the same time as that contest was concluding at Savannah, back at Chillicothe's Jerry Litton Memorial Stadium II, the soccer Lady Hornets steadied after a struggling start to still trail potent Sedalia: Smith-Cotton only 2-0 10 minutes into the second half, only to surrender four goals – three by junior forward/midfielder Adamaris Ramirez – in 8-1/2 minutes and fall by a 6-0 margin.

For all of the teams involved, it was their first competition in about 22 months. Their would-be 2020 seasons were erased at the U.S. onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last spring.

The baseball Hornets gave themselves a chance to notch a confidence-building victory against the 2-times defending Midland Empire Conference champions, but didn't quite pull it off, in part because of leaky defense.

After the host Savages plated three unearned runs off starting and losing pitcher Mason Baxter in the bottom of the third inning, Chillicothe responded with their initial 2021 tally in the next half-inning on a throwing error as Brock Ward stole third base and then pushed three three across in the visitors' fifth on Ward's 2-runs single – his second of three hits – and a double-steal pulled off by courtesy runner Ruger Cox and Baxter – to go in front, 4-3.

Baxter preserved that through tho bottom of the fifth, but Savannah broke through again in its sixth. The Savages knocked out Baxter with four runs to reclaim the upper hand at 7-4. Although CHS got one back in the top of the seventh on another Ward RBI "knock," it wasn't enough to prevent defeat. With the bases full and one out, an uncaught popup between the plate and pitcher's mound turned into a game-ending 1-2-5 double-play.

Specifics on how Chillicothe scored its runs or how Savannah fashioned its winning rally were not available at the time of the original posting of this story.

Statistically, both teams' run production was largely the result of the top five in their respective batting orders. 

The bottom four of Chillicothe's batting order were a composite one for 12 with eight strikeouts in 12 plate appearances, but Savannah's was virtually as ineffective. The SHS Nos 6-9 batters were a combined one for 12 also.

For CHS, leadoff man Griff Bonderer went two for three plus a walk and two runs scored in his high school debut, No. 2 hitter Baxter was two for three plus a walk, as well, with two runs driven in and one scored, and cleanup man Ward went three for four with three runs driven in and one scored.

Chillicothe, which out-hit Savannah 8-6 and drew seven bases on balls, also had a single from sophomore first baseman Landon Winder.

Savannah had one man stroke two hits and drive in two runs in four at-bats. The Savages waired out only three bases on balls  all from Baxter, but were hit by three pitches, as well.

On the mound, Baxter (0-1) surrendered on five hits in his 5-2/3 innings, but also hit three and walked three while fanning six. Bonderer finished the sixth inning, allowing a hit before getting the final out.

All of Savannah's runs were charged to the CHS starter with four earned. The Hornets committed three errors to only one by the Savages.

The victory was credited to the first of Savannah's two relievers, Aiden Leopard, after Savages starter Ty Hilsabeck worked three shutout innings, allowing two hits and striking out four.

Next on the baseball Hornets' schedule is a Monday non-conference game at Lawson.

Junior back Sophia Luetticke of the Chillicothe High School soccer Lady Hornets blocks a sideline pass attempt by Sedalia: Smith-Cotton forward Adamaris Ramirez during the first half of Friday's season opener in Chillicothe. Her team having led since tallying twice in the first four minutes of the match, Ramirez iced the Lady Tigers' triumph with three goals in a span of 8-1/2 minutes in the second half as Sedalia, coached by Chillicothe graduate Meredith Brick, blanked CHS 6-0.

The soccer Lady Hornets' debut under their own first-year head coach, Jimmy Chapman, was marred even before it started with the non-availability of five players, including planned starting goalkeeper Allie Italiano and would-be starting wing back Chloe Funk. Pressed into service between the pipes against the expected strong attack of Sedalia, instead, was freshman Hadley Beemer.

It took less than a minute for that change to impact the match.

With initial control of the ball, Sedalia maneuvered the ball to the right side at midfield, then angled a pass toward the middle into the CHS end of Bob Fairchild Field. Another pass ahead and to the left led the intended recipient too far and Beemer moved out toward the top of the penalty area to pick it up. However, when she missed connections with it, her momentum carried her into the path of the Sedalia player trying to run onto it and the contact meant a foul on the CHS netminder and a penalty kick for the Lady Tigers a mere 32 seconds into the season.

Coming forward to take the unguarded shot from 12 yards was senior midfielder Ally Woolery, who drilled a hard-rising shot past Beemer to her left for a 1-0 SHS lead.

The visitors continued to possess the ball and pressure the Chillicothe defense in the immediate aftermath of that goal, leading to another Lady Hornets infraction – this time a few yards outside the penalty area just over three minutes into the contest.

The location proved immaterial as junior forward Kiser Pannier sizzled a 23-yard shot from the offensive left side of the pitch across the goalmouth and high into the far corner of the net, a superb shot Beemer had no hope of getting to. After only 3:35, the guests – coached by Chillicothe High alumna Meredith Brick – had a 2-0 lead.

Thanks to several solid stops and a couple of outstanding ones by Beemer, that early 1-2 punch was all Sedalia was able to land, in terms of scoring, in the opening half. However, with Chillicothe not generating more than a couple of middling scoring chances, the Lady TIgers rather easily reached intermission in front 2-0.

Through the first 10 minutes of the second half, the same trends continued with Sedalia with a wide territorial advantage, but unable to add on.

Finally, the floodgates gave way.

When Chillicothe failed to get a good foot on a clearing attempt on a right-side corner kick by Sedalia, the ball came to junior forward Adamaris Ramirez 23 yards out and  just to the left of the center of the pitch. Measuring her shot perfectly, she pelted a hard, high shot into the same upper left corner Pannier had earlier picked. With 51:50 elapsed in the match, the score had finally changed to 3-0.

By the time another 8-1/2 minutes were played, that margin doubled.

Just over four minutes after her first tally, Ramirez danced around a CHS back into the penalty area and, from about 17 yards, drove a shot just high enough to clear the CHS goalkeeper and yet stay under the crossbar.

Under 90 seconds later, Pannier joined Ramirez in having a multi-goals game, beating Beemer from about 14 yards for a 5-0 lead.

It stayed that way hardly two minutes before Ramirez again tattooed a shot past the freshman netminder, who again had little to no chance to stop the 25-yards shot from the middle. That gave the Sedalia junior a 3-goals "hat trick" in a span of only 8:31.

The final nearly 20 minutes saw Sedalia largely content to protect its big lead. Brick removed her top offensive threats for good with right at 10 minutes remaining.

While it did make Sedalia's goalkeeper handle the ball a few times, Chillicothe was not able to muster any "grade A" scoring chances. Its best of the match might have been junior forward Lucy Reeter's try from about 18 yards in the 11th minute which curled well wide of the right goalpost.

The final score of the varsity match virtually duplicated the count from the preceding junior-varsity contest in whichBeemer had expected to see action in goal. Sedalia won it 7-0.

The soccer Lady Hornets also will get right back at it on Monday, hosting Kirksville in a 5 p.m. varsity match (scheduled originally for Kirksville, but changed recently to Chillicothe). CHS will observe its "Senior Day," with a recognition ceremony after the varsity match.