Tennis Lady Hornets only Chillicothe (Mo.) HS squad to post win Thursday, Sept. 9

Softball team's 5-games win streak halted by St. Joseph: Central; boys' soccer, volleyball also defeated at home

As reported to C-T
Hope Helton of the Chillicothe (Mo.) High School softball Lady Hornets launches a run-scoring, ground-rule double to right-center field during the fifth inning of Chillicothe's home battle with St. Joseph: Central at Daryl Danner Memorial Park Thursday Sept. 9, 2021. Helton's blast scored Sophia Luetticke to give Chillicothe a 3-1 lead, but Central rallied to prevail 6-3.

Even down a player, Chillicothe (Mo.) HS tennis Lady Hornets romp Thursday, Sept. 9

Shut out host Lexington minus top senior Lourenco; CHS softball, soccer, volleyball all fall

The only positive outcome for the five Chillicothe (Mo.) HS fall sports teams in competition Thursday (Sept. 9, 2021) was delivered by the tennis Lady Hornets, even though they were without their most-experienced and one of the best player for a second-straight outing.

With senior Leah Lourenco again sidelined, the CHS racqueteers nevertheless overwhelmed host Lexington 9-0, dropping only six games out of 70 played.

Home wasn’t so sweet for the softball, boys’ soccer, and volleyball squads, each of which fell to tough visitors.

Junior goalkeeper Carson Steele of the Chillicothe (Mo.) High School soccer Hornets comes out to make one of his 13 saves furing CHS' 3-1 home loss to St. Joseph: Bishop LeBlond Thursday Sept. 9, 2021.

Also playing Thursday were the golf Lady Hornets, who took ninth place in the 11-teams St. Joseph: Central Invitational. The best individual finish for Chillicothe was Skyler Powers’ 29th-place (out of about 60 players) 108.

GIRLS’ TENNIS

At Lexington, it was a mismatch with the host Minutewomen from the word “go.”

Chillicothe swept the three doubles sets without dropping a game.

With Lourenco out of action again, Bryton BeVelle once more partnered with top Lady Hornet Cami Carpenter, this time coming away victorious by bagel over Kaitlyn Thorpe and Kaydynce Martin.

CHS had its normal tandems at No. 2 – Izzy Garr and Rylee Washburn – and No. 3 – Audrey Snider and Olivia Anderson.

Once the match switched to singles play, Lexington had marginally better luck, even with Martin being unable to play her planned No. 2 spot set against Washburn, thus forfeiting it.

While Carpenter was nailing down another whitewash win over Thorpe in No. 1 position, Anderson was taking No. 3 play 8-1, Snider No. 4 at 8-3, and Garr No. 5 at 8-2. Each of those three played “up” a slot, due to Lourenco’s non-availability.

Completing the team’s shutout, non-conference victory was BeVelle with an 8-0 blanking of her No. 6 foe, giving BeVelle her first-ever varsity singles and doubles triumphs on the same day.

The tennis Lady Hornets (3-2) have tournament play Friday (Sept. 10) at St. Joseph.

SOFTBALL

Chillicothe’s softball club was within three outs of successfully completing its unofficial “revenge tour,” but the talented Lady Indians of St. Joseph: Central wouldn’t give them that satisfaction.

One day after shading traditionally-dynamic Platte County – a former heated Midland Empire Conference rival of Chillicothe’s – by a 9-8 margin at home, Central plated four runs in the top of the seventh inning against the Lady Hornets at Daryl Danner Memorial Park to claim a come-from-behind 6-3 non-league verdict.

Chillicothe was trying to put the finishing touch on avenging each of its five 2020 losses, two of which were dealt out by Central at St. Joseph on last season’s opening day. The Lady Hornets already had bested Kirksville, Lawson and East Buchanan previously this fall. The 2020 team’s other loss was in the district final to Savannah, which Chillicothe had defeated earlier in its season.

Having answered a Central third-inning run with two in its half to take the lead Thursday, Chillicothe (8-3) added a run in the fifth for a 3-1 margin. However, after the Lady Indians (9-1) countered that tally in the sixth, they seized on the home team’s only error of the game to end the Lady Hornets’ 5-games winning streak.

A pop fly to shallow right field that was misplayed starting the top of the seventh immediately put the potential tying run in scoring position for the top of the St. Joseph team’s lineup. Central’s leadoff batter, who already had two hits, finally won a battle with Chillicothe pitching ace Kinlei Boley on a 3-2 delivery, stroking a double to center field to knot the score.

After a sacrifice bunt pushed that girl to third, a walk and stolen base opened the door to a big inning and Central marched through.

A single to center put the visitors in front with the batter advancing to second base as the throw went toward home plate to stop the lead runner. After Boley got a popup to keep the runners stapled to second and third, another hit found the grass in center field, scoring both Central baserunners for a 6-3 margin.

Now down, but not out, the Lady Hornets put the potential tying run in the batter’s box in their half of the seventh via Hope Helton’s second hit and a 2-outs walk to Kirsten Dunn. However, a groundout to second terminated the Chillicothe winning streak.

“I was pleased with our play overall,” Lee Rucker, Lady Hornets head coach, reacted. “The girls competed hard the whole game.

“(Central has) some really good hitters in their lineup and they were able to string together some hits in the seventh.”

As with his team’s two prior defeats during the season-opening Greater Kansas City Suburban Invitational tournament, the coach sees Thursday’s near-miss as beneficial in the long term.

“This kind of game helps us prepare for tough games later on,” he shared via e-mail with local media.

Chillicothe’s go-ahead surge in the third inning came after the Central run in the top half had ended righthander Boley’s string of consecutive scoreless innings at 35-1/3.

Chillicothe (Mo.) High School Hornets junior softball pitcher Kinlei Boley winds her arm through her delivery during the team's home game against St. Joseph: Central Thursday Sept. 9, 2021. Central first snapped Boley's string of consecutive scoreless innings at 35-1/3 with a run in the third inning, then struck for four tallies – three unearned – in the top of the seventh to pull out a 6-3 victory that ended Chillicothe's 5-games winning streak.

Lady Hornets sophomore and No. 9 batter Jolie Bonderer laced a leadoff double to right-center field in the bottom of the third and moved to third on Sophia Luetticke’s infield hit on which, while the Central defense focused on Bonderer, Luetticke was able to dash on to second base.

Helton’s grounder to second scored Bonderer and sent Luetticke ahead one base, from where she trotted home on Boley’s ground single up the middle.

In the fifth, Luetticke lured a leadoff walk, swiped second base and loped home on the righthanded-swinging Helton’s opposite-field double.

With a chance for a big inning with the heart of its lineup upcoming, Chillicothe cast an ominous vibe over the action by being unable to get Helton home from second, hitting a pair of infield popups and a fly out. Eventually, that inability to put up a crooked number proved costly.

Statistically, Chillicothe was out-hit 9-7 with Helton having the hosts’ only multi-hits game. The Lady Hornets could not make the Central pitcher for routinely falling behind on the count as she threw less than 60% strikes (or pitches swung at), compared to Boley’s 73% strikes rate. The Chillicothe hurler fired first-pitch strikes to over two-thirds of the opponents, while the Lady Hornets immediately got ahead on the count almost half of the time. 

Each side accepted four walks. Central made two errors, neither of which factored into scoring innings.

Boley (6-2) threw the entire game, striking out six. Half of the six Central runs were unearned.

Chillicothe will look to rebound quickly, playing in Saturday’s annual Putnam County Invitational tournament in what is projected to be a return to very hot (mid 90s) temperatures.

It will play Ewing: Highland and Putnam County during the morning’s “pool” rounds to set the pairings for afternoon action.

Strong squads from Kirksville and Marceline are in the other pool, coach Rucker notes. Marceline is undefeated.

BOYS’ SOCCER

Chillicothe (Mo.) High School soccer Hornets senior Gabe Hansen tries to navigate a phalanx of three St. Joseph: Bishop LeBlond defenders during the second half of CHS' home match with the Golden Eagles Thursday Sept. 9, 2021. Bishop LeBlond won 3-1.

For a second time in three days Thursday, Chillicothe High’s soccer Hornets could not hold onto a 1-0 lead or add any further tallies to its cause after seizing the initial upper hand.

Having broken a scoreless tie against Maryville with an early second-half goal, the Hornets saw the Spoofhounds respond with three goals of their own to prevail 3-1.

The same scenario played out Thursday against another visiting MEC foe, St. Joseph: Bishop LeBlond.

This time, Chillicothe jumped ahead on the opening sequence after “kicking off.”

Given control of the ball first at match’s start, the Hornets sent it backward to establish control, then quickly worked the ball up their left side.

After getting the ball deep into the Bishop LeBlond defensive third of Bob Fairchild Field, a BLHS clearing attempt resulted in the ball coming to CHS defensive midfielder Wyatt Brandsgaard about 30 yards from the goal and near the center.

The junior, who had registered his first 2021 goal in the win over St. Joseph: Lafayette on Tuesday, wasted no time in triggering a shot toward the goal from that distance. It cleanly beat the Golden Eagles’ goalkeeper, who seemed taken a bit off-guard by the long shot try. Only 35 seconds into the action, Chillicothe was up, 1-0.

The Hornets continued to apply good pressure over the next 30 minutes, but couldn’t get the finishing touch on a second goal. Eventually, as the more-technically-precise St. Joseph team got into its rhythm, that failure proved costly.

Just as against Maryville on Monday, the longer the match went on, the fewer the touches Chillicothe had on the foe’s half of the pitch became.

With Bishop LeBlond confidently bringing its backfield up to near the midfield line, boxing in the Hornets’ attempts to counterattack while utilizing its quickness and better passing and ballhandling, much of the second half was played on the CHS end of the pitch. Eventually that brought the seemingly-inevitable results.

Just less than two minutes into the second half, with Chillicothe still nursing its early 1-0 lead, a seemingly-innocuous push wide down its left offensive sideline by the visiting Golden Eagles saw Noah Stevenson chase down a long pass near the goal line/sideline intersection.

Perhaps catching CHS reserve goalkeeper Carson Steele by surprise, Stevenson surprisingly drove the ball toward the net, high, but not with a lot of velocity. Whether by intent or happy happenstance, the drive sailed several feet over the netminder’s head as he guarded the near (right) goalpost, but at a slow-enough pace that the descent phase of its arc brought in under the crossbar and nestling into the upper left (from the defensive perspective) portion of the CHS net, tying the score after 1:48 of the last half.

Just over 11 minutes later, with the Golden Eagles repeatedly pressuring the fill-in for injured starter Jaxon Albertson, who was injured during the rough-and-tumble Maryville clash, BLHS’ Adam Seiter fired a low shot from the offensive left side that put his team up, 2-1, at 53:24 of the match.

Just less than six minutes later, with the constant Bishop LeBlond pressure on the CHS defense causing increasing fissures and frustration, Eli Spencer was knocked down while playing ball inside the Chillicothe penalty area. Spencer easily drove home the ensuing penalty kick at 59:14, making it 3-1.

The Hornets generated only a couple of deep forays into the foe’s end of the pitch in the remaining 20 minutes. With less than 10 minutes to go, the most dangerous of those saw junior forward Sam Reeter pull his left-footed shot from 15 yards away well wide of the far post.

Statistically, Steele acquitted himself well in only his second varsity appearance and first against a talented opponent. He was charted as making 13 saves on the day.

Junior Jackson Reeter of the Chillicothe (Mo.) High School soccer Hornets attempts to get a shot on net from 30 yards out in the middle during CHS' Thursday Sept. 9, 2021, home match against St. Joseph: Bishop LeBlond. After Chillicothe's Wyatt Brandsgaard scored in the match's first 40 seconds, CHS was blanked the rest of the way as Bishop LeBlond rallied to prevail, 3-1.

The soccer Hornets will have just over a week to see if they can get Albertson healthy enough to get back in action and to solve their second-half woes.

They don’t have another match until starting the Moberly Spartans Invitational Friday, Sept. 17, with a battle against the host team. That tourney will continue the following day.

GIRLS’ GOLF

Deploying his most-upperclass-heavy lineup to date, CHS golf Lady Hornets coach Darren Smith saw his 3-seniors, 2-juniors quintet perform decently in Thursday’s Central Invitational at the Moila Shrine Course in St. Joseph.

Junior Powers, the 2021 team’s top returning player, led the way with her round of 108, but she was 14 shots off the pace of the highest medaling score. The overall medalist, Jaylee Castro of Kansas City: Staley, fired a 76 to win that honor by a shot over a Central player.

Chillicothe’s other junior in the tourney lineup, Izzie Montgomery, posted a 115 total, leaving her at around 40th place.

Seniors Clara Leamer and Abbey Hayen were three and four strokes back of Montgomery, respectively, resulting in CHS’ 460 low-4 team score. Liberty and Central both led the field with scores of 353.

Senior Kelsie Hicks was the Lady Hornets’ other participant. Competing in her first high school tournament, Hicks carded a 125 for the 18-holes event, a better score than about a dozen others.

The golf Lady Hornets are scheduled to play a triple-dual match this coming Monday (Sept. 13) against Cameron, St. Joseph: Lafayette, and St. Joseph: Benton.

VOLLEYBALL

Hosting the routinely-strong Lady Warriors of Kansas City’s St. Pius X High School in conference action, the CHS volleyball crew performed reasonably admirably Thursday, avoiding any overwhelming game losses even as SPX secured a 25-12, 25-14, 25-18 sweep at the CHS gym.

A couple of Lady Hornets had the statistically-best nights of the very young season yet. Senior hitter Gracie West had a team-leading six kills (spikes), while junior Halle Hill provided a squad-topping 11 assists, reports COVID-19-sidelined CHS head coach Bob Long. Assistant coach Amy Dixon again guided the varsity squad during Thursday’s play.

Junior Anna Fisher both paced Chillicothe’s net defense with three blocks and served a team-most three aces.

Senior Makayla Vance and sophomore Kayanna Cranmer made a couple of “digs” apiece for top CHS.

The loss was Chillicothe’s first in three matches.

Next for the Lady Hornets spikers will be Tuesday, Sept. 14, action at Carrollton.