Steamrolling Chillicothe (Mo.) Softball Lady Hornets’ 2021 ‘Senior Day’ Perfect

Junior hurler fires perfect game in 10-0 win over Bishop LeBlond; senior delivers walkoff hit in team-record 17th-straight victory Monday, Oct. 4

Paul Sturm
Chillicothe News
Dawsyn Lightner, one of four 2021 Chillicothe High School softball Lady Hornets playing in their final regular-season home game, delivers a game-ending 2-runs double to right-center field in the bottom of the fifth inning of Monday's 10-0 victory over St. Joseph: Bishop LeBlond.

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor

While a junior had done the heavy lifting on the 2021 Chillicothe (Mo.) HS softball Lady Hornets’ “Senior Day,” it was a senior who sees only occasional action who made the junior’s performance permanently perfect Monday (Oct. 4).

With right-handed pitching ace Kinlei Boley having struck all but one of the 15 St. Joseph: Bishop LeBlond batters she’d faced through five innings – the 15th out came on a bunt popup caught in foul territory in the fifth, the Lady Hornets uncharacteristically still needed to do something offensively in their fifth to eliminate the need for Boley to risk her gem again in a sixth frame.

Half of CHS’ corps of seniors answered that summons.

Following a leadoff double by junior Bre Pithan to open the home half of the fifth of the Midland Empire Conference game Chillicothe led 8-0, senior Halle Rucker had a pitch glance off of her, putting two runners aboard. If both scored, the game would end on the 10-runs-lead rule and Boley’s perfect game would shift from pending to permanent.

To home plate stepped another 12th grader, Dawsyn Lightner, who was receiving a rare start and playing left field.

As she batted a wild pitch allowed both runners to advance a base, putting Chillicothe potentially – in addition to cementing Boley’s gem – one basehit away from a 17th-consecutive victory and team-record-equaling 25th conquest of the season.

With those “ducks on the pond,” Dawsyn delivered, slashing a hit into the gap in right-center field that allowed both runners to score without a play even as Lightner was beating a throw to second base for a game-ending double.

Already having clinched at least a share of a second-consecutive MEC crown last week, Chillicothe’s 17th triumph in a row extended the winning-streak mark previously established at 15 by the 2008 team and made it back-to-back undefeated league slates for the Lady Hornets. CHS has taken its last 18 conference games in a row, head coach Lee Rucker noted.

Finally, with Boley throwing the program’s first perfect game since Molly Jones and Jylian Davis teamed for a 3-innings “perfecto” in 2016, CHS equaled the single-season team record for victories in a season by improving to 25-3. The 2010 club, coached by Stan Baldwin and also a MEC champion, went 25-4 before a stunning fifth loss came on a walkoff home run by host Boonville in the state quarterfinals.

If this year’s team captures its last two regular-season outings (at home vs. Putnam County Tuesday and next Monday at Trenton), as it will be favored to do, it will assure yet another distinction – best winning percentage ever by a CHS softball squad.

None of the aforementioned milestones/records address the multiple other individual and team statistical records already surpassed and continuing to be reset each game.

Statistically, with Lightner’s game-concluding 2-RBI hit being their 11th hit of the afternoon, Monday’s game became the marauding Lady Hornets’ 11th in a row of having twin-figures hits. Pithan, Boley and Sophia Luetticke – a third of the four seniors – collected two hits each.

The fourth CHS senior, Mika Hibner, caught Boley’s perfect game and was one of six Lady Hornets with runs batted in, even though she went hitless.

Boley’s hurling dominance of the overmatched BLHS batters was so complete that only six of the 50 pitches she threw were called balls. Of the 15 batters she faced and retired, she pumped a first- pitch strike to 14. Her won-lost record climbed to 16-2.

Chillicothe blew the game open to a degree with six runs in the bottom of the second inning after managing only one tally in the first.

“It was exciting to finish the conference season along with celebrating Senior Night,” coach Rucker related to local media after the contest. ”Winning the conference title was one of the team’s preseason goals and tonight it was fun to realize that goal. Now they have more goals to pursue over the next few weeks.”

Mika Hibner, one of four 2021 Chillicothe High School softball Lady Hornets, fills in a portion of the "2021" on the program's championships signboard next to its Daryl Danner Memorial Park home field Monday, Oct. 4 as teammate/classmate Halle Rucker looks on. Monday's 10-0 win over St. Joseph: Bishop LeBlond clinched outright the program's latest Midland Empire Conference title.