Regular-season play agrees with Chillicothe (Mo.) HS teams Monday, but not postseason action

Baseball, soccer squads strong in victories, but season ends for golf, tennis boys

Paul Sturm
Chillicothe News
Having charged hard to get to the grounder off the bat of Savannah's Gabe Piper, Chillicothe (Mo.) HS baseball Hornets junior shortstop Gage Leamer throws strong and on-target to get the batter and end the top of the fourth inning after the Savages had shaved CHS' lead to 2-1 earlier in the frame. Playing their finest all-around game of the season, the Hornets posted a 6-1 win on "Chuck" Haney Field at "June" Shaffer Memorial Park Stadium to raise their record to 9-11 and their MEC mark to 4-2, identical to Savannah's.

Chillicothe (Mo.) HS spring sports teams in the process of wrapping up their 2021 regular seasons fared very well Monday (May 11). The same could not be said of the boys’ golf and tennis corps in their postseason outings.

Playing their sharpest all-around game of the season to date, the baseball Hornets officially dethroned defending Midland Empire Conference champion Savannah by a 6-1 score at Chillicothe’s “Chuck” Haney Field.

That performance partially overlapped the soccer Lady Hornets’ 12th triumph in 18 matches, a 2-1 double-overtime thriller at Kirksville highlighted by CHS junior goalkeeper Allie Italiano scoring the tying goal in the final minute of the second half.

Earlier in the day, the golf Hornets managed only an “OK” performance in the Class 3 District 4 Tournament at St. Joseph, finishing in the middle of the pack in the team standings and not advancing any individuals to next week’s state tournament (see separate story on this website).

The tennis Hornets also saw their team season conclude when they were whipped 5-1 at Carrollton in the Class 1 District 15 team tournament semifinals.

BASEBALL

Playing almost flawlessly in the field, including executing three different types of double plays to end each of the first three innings, the Hornets also were opportunistic on offense, turning eight hits into six runs.

Supported very well by the defense for one of the few times during the second half of the season, CHS pitchers Mason Baxter (first four innings) and Griff Bonderer (last three) checked Savannah on seven hits as CHS improved to 9-11 overall and 4-2 in the Midland Empire Conference. Savannah sank to 15-8 and 4-2, respectively.

Sophomore infielder Brock Miller of the 2021 Chillicothe (Mo.) HS baseball Hornets completes the swing which produced a solid single up the middle to help set up CHS' win-clinching 4-runs bottom of the sixth inning Monday (May 10) against Savannah. Chillicothe won 6-1 to eliminate the defending Midland Empire Conference champion Savages from this spring's title race.

Ahead only 2-1 going to the bottom of the sixth, the host Hornets strung together four hits out of their first five batters to boost their margin to 4-1. A run on a wild pitch and another on a successful double-steal swelled the spread to five runs.

That limited the concern immensely in the top of the seventh when Savannah used a 2-outs walk and single to create a mild threat. However, a popup to shortstop Baxter in short center field completed Bonderer’s – and the Hornets’ – third save of the season. Baxter (2-3) got the victory.

Chillicothe drew first blood in the bottom of the second inning on Landon Winder’s leadoff double down the left field line and Gage Leamer’s 1-out single through the hole into left field.

A fielding error on Baxter’s inning-starting grounder in the third led to the next Hornets run. After stealing second, he scored easily on Brock Ward’s hit.

Singles surrounding a sacrifice bunt and wild pitch put the guest Savages on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth, but that surprisingly turned out to be their only run.

Helping keeping SHS in check were a well-handled 3-6 double play started by Winder that ended the first inning, a strikeout-caught stealing twin-killing to close the second, and a 5-3 DP that defused a 2-on, 1-out sticky situation in the third. Tucker Wagers speared the hard-hit ball on a short hop at third, moved to the bag for the forceout, and threw a strike across the diamond to Winder to retire speedy Truman Bodenhausen.

After a scoreless fifth inning kept the Hornets on top 2-1, Winder’s second leadoff hit of the game lit the fuse on the 4-runs bottom of the sixth that blew a hole in the tight game.

Brock Miller followed with a single up the middle. After a double-steal put two men in scoring position, Ga. Leamer’s pop fly fell in short right field for a run-scoring double as Miller held up, in case the ball was caught, and only advanced 90 feet.

That became inconsequential when sophomore Trent Keith, on a safety-squeeze play, bunted perfectly about 45 feet up the first-base line, not only allowing the speedy Miller to score, but Keith to race safely to unoccupied first base.

After Keith swiped second, a wild pitch to the backstop let Ga. Leamer dart home from third without a play with the fourth insurance run of the inning.

Statistically, the host Hornets, who had lost 7-5 at Savannah in their season opener, out-hit the Savages 8-7. Winder, Keith, and Ga. Leamer had a pair of hits apiece for CHS with Winder delivering the game’s only extra-base hit.

Baxter struck out three, walked none, and hit one in his winning 4-innings start, surrendering the one earned run. Bonderer dodged through three scoreless frames, despite four hits and a walk. He fanned only one. Aiden Leonard went the distance for Savannah.

Each team made one error with SHS’ leading to what proved to be the decisive run.

Chillicothe’s baseball team wraps up its regular season by hosting Kansas City: St. Pius X at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. SPX won its duel of MEC unbeatens over visiting St. Joseph: Lafayette 6-4 Monday.

SOCCER

At Kirksville, as second-half time dwindled into the final five minutes and then the last 60 seconds, it seemed a KHS Lady Tigers goal by freshman Lucy Tiedemann in the last minute of the opening half would provide the hosts with a victory.

However, with Chillicothe, which probably had a territorial edge in the match, but struggled to get its normal, high-quality scoring chances with the strong defensive shell Kirksville erected, pressing the attack in the final 90 seconds of regulation time, the Lady Hornets came up with a rarity to force overtime.

As CHS tried to get the ball deep toward the KHS goal, the ball went over the end line off of a Lady Tiger, creating a corner kick chance.

With the clock ticking into the last minute, as Chillicothe scurried to get top scorer Lucy Reeter set to take the kick from the intersection of the end line and sideline, Lady Hornets first-year head coach Jimmy Chapman not only brought the usual taller players into the goalmouth area and all of his midfielders and backs well into the Kirksville end of the John Spainhour Field pitch, but also waved junior goalkeeper Allie Italiano not only up into the attacking third, but into the Kirksville “18” (penalty area).

That strategy proved prescient as, with teammates crashing toward the net as Reeter’s corner kick sailed into the area near the goal, Italiano, who has demonstrated both her athleticism and jumping ability numerous times during the season to deny opponents goals, also moved forward while tracking the ball’s flight. As it came near her, she leaped and put her head to it, directing the ball toward the net where it found its way through the tangle of players from both teams and past the Kirksville goalkeeper to tie the match.

It is believed to be the first time in the 15 seasons of CHS girls’ soccer that a Lady Hornets goalkeeper still occupying the goalkeeper’s role in the match had herself scored. There have been occasions, with former netminder Chapman himself perhaps being one, where Chillicothe Hornets or Lady Hornets ’keepers have been shifted to one of the other 10 positions during a match and ended up finding the net.

Reprieved by 2020-21 transfer Italiano’s first CHS goal and what is believed to be a team-record 17th assist by Reeter, Chillicothe headed into overtime, where it had lost its only prior extra-time match in the 94th minute at Mid-Buchanan a few weeks earlier.

As on that occasion, the first 10-minutes “sudden-victory” segment saw no scoring, but the second one did around midway through.

In this case, in the fifth minute of the second OT – the match’s 95th minute, senior midfielder Julia Stimpson played the ball to sophomore Juliann Gabrielson for a shot at the winner. The increasingly-dangerous and productive Gabrielson drilled home the match-decider, her 13th goal of the season, second only to Reeter’s 25. For Stimpson, already signed to play small-college soccer at Columbia, Mo.’s Stephens College next year, it was her eighth assist of the campaign, also second on the team to Reeter.

So, so proud of our team tonight!” rejoiced Chapman. “The defense of Ellie Barnett, Sophia Luetticke, Hannah Dominique, Skyler Powers, Chloe Funk and Jaycie Stimpson had a very good game limiting Kirksville’s opportunites and helping spark our attacks.”

The CHS coach said his attacking players showed great determination, not giving in to frustration over the conservative KHS strategy aimed at limiting the Lady Hornets’ clean looks at the goal.

“Kirksville played very defensively and made it hard for us to play through their lines the way we normally do,” he details, “but we still created opportunities and just kept pushing.”Statistically for CHS, before and after scoring the tying goal, Italiano saved 11 Kirksville shots from entering the net as the Lady Hornets defeated the northeast Missouri school a second time this spring. Chillicothe won 1-0 at home in its second outing of the year on March 22.

With the Lady Hornets due to host St. Joseph: Lafayette in a 5 p.m. Midland Empire Conference match today (Tuesday), Reeter’s being kept off the goal scoresheet by Kirksville means she’ll have a chance to equal or surpass Lindy Saunders’ 2014 and 2015 team record of 26 goals in a season on the home artificial turf of Bob Fairchild Field at Jerry Litton Memorial Stadium II.

Reeter will enter the match with 25 goals.

TENNIS

At Carrollton, the host Trojans did again and the visiting Hornets died in their team district tournament semifinal match.

Conquerors of Chillicothe by a 7-2 margin in both teams’ season openers in late March, Carrollton was on a nearly-identical path Monday when the competition was concluded prematurely when the second-seeded hosts assumed an insurmountable 5-1 lead.

Winners of two of the three doubles sets to debut the dual, the Trojans got off to leads in four of the five singles matches which were begun - the would-be No. 1 position rematch between Class 1 District 15 champion Chace Corbin of the Hornets and district runnerup Luke Davis of Carrollton never began.

When Trojans entries captured the No. 4 position match 6-1, 6-1 and No. 6 spot 6-1 6-2, it came down to a matter of which other position – No. 2 or 3 – would finish sooner and likely terminate play.

While a Trojan had a 6-1, 4-1 stranglehold on the No. 4 play, it was Charlie Wohlegemuth at No. 2 spot which cemented the Carrollton triumph and advanced it to Tuesday’s district final at Trenton.

Wohlgemuth, who gave Ch. Corbin an increasingly-difficult time in their non-team district semifinals match in Chillicothe last Saturday, had outlasted Hornets senior Caleb Corbin 6-4 in the opening set of their best-of-3-sets No. 2 duel and was in front of the second set when the chance for Carrollton to clinch arose.

The Trojan didn’t squander his and his team’s opportunity, winning the second set 6-3 to make it a straight-sets victory.

With Carrollton now in front 5-1 and assured of team victory, under postseason procedures the other action still incomplete was immediately halted.

Chillicothe’s lone success in the district semifinal came at No. 2 doubles where Emmett Young and Ch. Corbin completed a strong 9-3 performance after being put together at around midseason with an 8-6 come-from-behind triumph. According to Chillicothe head coach Bob Long, Ch Corbin/Young trailed 3-6 before coming on strong.

With the second loss to Carrollton on the season, Chillicothe finished with a 4-12 record in dual matches, including its losses to Trenton and Kirksville in the “Tennis Under the Lights” tournament.