Chillicothe (Mo.) HS Softball Lady Hornets Trample Tournament Foes, Take Title Saturday

CHS overwhelms four foes by combine 46-2 margin in capturing Putnam County Invitational crown Sept. 11, 2021

As reported to C-T

UNIONVILLE — Those who saw the Chillicothe High School softball Lady Hornets play or competed against them in the 2021 Putnam County Invitational tournament this weekend likely won’t forget the dazzling diamond display the Lady Hornets put on, individually and in toto.

Playing four times – three times against smaller-school opponents – in the 7-teams tourney, the Lady Hornets swept to the crown in undefeated fashion, out-scoring the opposition a composite 46-2 while out-hitting it 57-12 and scoring multiple runs in 13 of the 20 innings in which they batted, on the way to raising their won-lost record on the season to 12-3.

“I thought we could win the tournament, but I would not have predicted the margins of victory,” said CHS head coach Lee Rucker following his squad’s 9-0 championship-game verdict over Kirksville that followed – in reverse order – a 16-1 smashing of South Harrison, 9-1 triumph over the host Lady Midgets, and 12-1 over Ewing: Highland. Only one of those contests lasted longer than five innings.

“Our hitting was impressive and the pitching and defense was outstanding,” coach Rucker expanded Saturday night after Chillicothe had followed last Thursday’s interruption of a 5-games winning streak with a new one of four games heading into a Tuesday visit to improved Cameron.

Junior Kirsten Dunn of the 2021 Chillicothe (Mo.) High School softball Lady Hornets, seen slamming a pitch for a hit during a Sept. 8 home game against Tina-Avalon, ripped her team-pacing second home run of the season Saturday, Sept. 11, as part of her 7-of-10, 4-RBI, 5-runs performance during the team's four victories that made them runaway champions of the Putnam County Invitational Tournament at Unionville.

Delineating all of the outstanding individual performances and team and personal highlight moments of Saturday’s event at Unionville might take a tome of Tolstoy-like length.

Junior Hope Helton ripped 10 hits in 13 at-bats and drove in nine runs on the day, scoring six times. Against South Harrison, she was three for three with four runs knocked in and two scored. That followed a 3-for-3, 3-runs, 2-RBI contest against Highland by the team’s primary catcher. Helton exited the tourney with an even .500 batting average.

Another junior, shortstop Kirsten Dunn, capped a 7-of-10 tourney with a 4-for-4 title contest in which Kirksville, beaten 1-0 in Chillicothe on Aug. 30, opted not to use its top pitcher, senior Sophie Stuart, even with the tourney title on the line. While Stuart played, sophomore Brianna Elsea was the only KHS hurler in the game.

Dunn also went two for two with two runs scored and three knocked in, poking her team-leading second home run of the season, against Putnam County. The roundtripper came with two out and Mika Hibner on first base in the third inning.

While those 11th graders were excelling, a couple of the team’s senior stalwarts were more than carrying their share of the offensive load.

Leadoff girl Sophia Luetticke matched Helton’s double-digits hits total, although in one extra at-bat. Her showing included stroking an extra-base hit in each contest, driving in four runs, and coming around to score nine times. Hitting right in front of Helton at the top of the CHS lineup, her season batting average spiked to an even .600.

Hibner didn’t have some of the game-in, game-out gaudy numbers of the other three, but did have four runs batted in against South Harrison and a superb 3-for-3, 6-RBI contest in the opener against Highland.

Overshadowed by those teammates, but still importantly productive from the No. 9 spot in the batting order, sophomore outfielder Jolie Bonderer was five of 11 with six runs scored Saturday.

In the pitcher’s circle, junior ace Kinlei Boley, senior alternate Halle Rucker, and sophomore prospect Hadley Beemer shared the twirling during the limited (19 total innings) action of the day. Boley picked up credit for three of the four triumphs, raising her season record to 9-2. Rucker went the route in the Putnam County game, improving to 3-1.

“This was a great day of softball for our girls,” the CHS head coach understated. “It was a day where the team played together really well and everyone contributed.”