CHS softball’s full state-runnerup lineup all-MEC

Repeat league champs’ coach also cited by peers

Paul Sturm
Chillicothe News

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor

ST. JOSEPH — Not surprisingly, but still highly gratifying, the 2021 Class 3 state-runnerup Chillicothe High School softball Lady Hornets have had their entire starting offensive lineup included – mostly on the first-team level – on the all-Midland Empire Conference team for the just-ended season.

In addition, second-year head coach Lee Rucker was voted by his peers as the conference coach of the year, an honor he presumably also would have received a year ago for guiding the 2020 CHS team to the league crown, but no such honor was conferred on anyone.

This year’s Chillicothe all-MEC choices include six of the nine regulars being tabbed for the first team – four as repeaters at their spots.

Unanimously selected in the vote by conference coaches were senior outfielder Sophia Luetticke and juniors Hope Helton at catcher and Kinlei Boley at pitcher. Luetticke also had been a unanimous selection as a sophomore in 2019.

Joining them on the top squad again, although not getting unanimous support, is junior shortstop Kirsten Dunn as an infielder.

Completing the group of top-tier league performers for the 29-5 CHS squad are junior second baseman Bre Pithan and sophomore right fielder Jolie Bonderer.

Receiving voting support sufficient to be second-teamers were seniors Mika Hibner at first base and Halle Rucker as pitcher. H. Rucker played mostly third base, but also threw regularly through the season and even played some first base.

The other member of the CHS starting lineup (not including freshman Tori Stoner, who played almost entirely only on defense in left field), sophomore Hadley Beemer, received at least a vote or two, giving her honorable mention status on the all-conference squad for 2021.

Chillicothe, which largely dominated all of its league games this fall in going undefeated in the loop for a second-straight year, had the only three unanimous choices.

For all three of them – Boley, Helton and Luetticke, as for Dunn, it was a second-consecutive year of inclusion on the all-MEC first squad.

Hibner was first-team as an outfielder last year and as a catcher in 2019 before switching to first base for most of her play this season.

For H. Rucker, it is a third-consecutive selection as second-team pitcher.

Pithan jumped to the top team after being honorable mention last season.