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Chillicothe (Mo.) HS Volleyball Lady Hornets Open 2020 by Sweeping Trenton

Paul Sturm
Chillicothe News

After Wednesday woes, Chillicothe (Mo.) HS’ fall sports teams rebounded with a terrific Thursday (Sept. 3), including a season-opening triumph for the volleyball varsity and its new head coach.

After an originally-planned girls’ golf double-dual melted down into little more than a glorified practice when one would-be foe recently backed out and the other brought only two players to town, the volleyball Lady Hornets stepped onto the game court for the first time under Bob Long’s leadership and eventually walked off it winners by a 3-games sweep at Trenton.

In between those events, the softball Lady Hornets not only gained their initial victory of the season, but both nearly had a perfect game thrown by their pitcher while the batters were matching the second-highest hits total in program history during a blowout win at Lawson.

Volleyball Lady Hornets roll in best-of-5 format debut

TRENTON — With Missouri high school volleyball in a transitional year before all varsity matches go to a best-of-5 format in 2021-22, Chillicothe and host Trenton jumped right into the longer match with the Lady Hornets prospering.

Missouri prep varsity teams may play some best-of-3 matches this season, but no more than half of their overall total can be under the former format.

In their season opener against their non-conference northern neighbor, CHS’ Lady Hornets performed very steadily, prevailing 25-12, 25-14, 25-12.

Long notes big early serves by freshman Delanie Kieffer and senior Ella Leamer got the visitors off to a good start and Chillicothe never let up. By night’s end, E. Leamer had posted nine serving aces and Kieffer seven.

“Trenton was continually attacked with strong outside hitting and hard-hitting serves,” Long praised his squad.

Senior Maya Snyder fared well in both those regards, earning five kills (spikes) and having six serving aces, while junior Essie Hicks served eight aces and banged home six kills.

Chief facilitator of the net offense Thursday was senior setter Haylee Coplen. She earned  a team-high eight assists to go with two aces. Sophomore alternate settler Jessica Reeter notched six helpers and six aces. Versatile veteran Snyder picked up three assists, as well.

The volleyball Lady Hornets will compete at home for the first time their next time out. Brookfield will be in the CHS gym for the Tuesday match, which will begin with freshman-level play at 5 p.m. CHS fan restrictions (only family members in attendance with sitting in family groups socially distanced from other families and no non-family-member students) will be in effect.

Because of the potential for the coronavirus to interrupt or prematurely end seasons this fall, like in other sports, the volleyball Lady Hornets will observe their Senior Night in conjunction with the home opener. Those ceremonies will occur Tuesday between the junior-varsity and varsity matches, Long notes.

Softball Lady Hornets mash Lawson for 19 hits in 16-3 romp

LAWSON — CHS sophomore righthanded pitcher Kinlei Boley threw perfect softball through three innings and multiple Lady Hornets batters enjoyed banner days as Chillicothe romped past Lawson’s Lady Cardinals 16-3 in five innings.

The Lady Hornets put crooked numbers on the scoreboard each of the first four innings, establishing a 4-0 margin after a half-inning, then boosting it to 9-0 after 1-1/2, 12-0 after 2-1/2, and 15-0 going to the bottom of the fourth, all while the home team was not getting anyone on base against Boley.

Finally, with the threat of a 15-runs-rule loss after four innings hanging over them, the Lady Cardinals broke up the CHS hurler’s bid for a perfecto and no-hitter with a leadoff single in the fourth that led to three unearned runs. Chillicothe responded with another tally in the fifth and closed out the 10-runs-rule decision when its pitcher finished what she started with a hitless fifth.

The Lady Hornets’ attack piled up 19 hits in only five innings, equaling the program’s highest total in about five years and tying for second-most in a game in Chillicothe’s 25 years of having a softball team. The record total for hits is 21, done by the 2009 team in a 15-1 triumph at Marceline on Sept. 14.

Thursday night, first-year head coach Lee Rucker’s rearrangement of the middle of his lineup helped break the CHS attack out of its run-producing lethargy. The Lady Hornets had been getting lots of baserunners, but leaving most of them on base, scoring two runs each in three of their first four games and four in the other.

No doubt aided by a less-effective opposing pitcher, Chillicothe went right to work in the top of the first inning and never let up.

Junior leadoff hitter Sophia Luetticke singled to start the game, stole second, and jogged home on left fielder Hope Helton’s first of two doubles. Boley, moved up a spot to third in the order, singled Helton home and eventually was forced home by a bases-full walk to Mollie Ellis. A forceout grounder off the bat of junior Dawsyn Lightner, who got her first start of 2020 in the role of extra hitter, completed the inning’s scoring.

Lightner also would cap the second-frame run production, but more emphatically.

After Luetticke and Helton again started the inning with hits, a bases-loaded pass to Mika Hibner made it 5-0 and a passed ball with the sacks jammed tacked on another. Finally, after a walk to Kirsten Dunn and a strikeout, Lightner launched a drive to deep left field that cleared the bases while she motored into second base with a 3-runs double that jumped the CHS margin up to 9-0.

“We did a better job of hitting with runners in scoring position,” saluted coach Rucker. “We were more selective at the plate and, as a result, we were able to put better swings.”

Having sent its entire lineup to the dish in each of the first two innings, Chillicothe did it again in the third, although it “settled” for adding only three runs to its advantage. For a third time in as many innings, Luetticke and Helton ignited the flame with consecutive hits with the former coming home on an error made on Boley’s second hit. Brooke Horton singled Helton home and Ellis’ 1-outs single plated Boley for a 12-0 CHS lead.

Once more with feeling in the fourth, Luetticke began the inning with her fourth single, which, following a passed ball, Helton succeeded with her second RBI double and fourth hit in as many innings. Boley’s run-scoring single and, with one out, Kirsten Dunn’s RBI hit left the visitors in position to win in four innings on the 15-runs-lead rule, if Boley could silence Lawson one more time.

Having retired the first nine LHS batters of the game, the Chillicothe hurler surrendered her first baserunner and hit when Kinley Wilkins grounded a leadoff hit into left on an 0-2 offering. A walk and an error followed, reducing the CHS lead to 14 runs and assuring at least another inning would be played. Another single which produced another error put a second Lady Cardinals tally on the scoreboard and, eventually, a third error plated a third run.

Just to be safe, as far as winning in five was concerned, the Lady Hornets got a leadoff single from Bre Pithan and Boley’s fourth single to put a 16th run on the board in their fifth before closing things out.

Lightner’s only hit of the day clearly was the game’s biggest single blow and left her with a game-best four runs batted in. Meanwhile, each of the top three batters in the lineup – Luetticke, Helton, and Boley finished four for five. Helton paired four runs scored with two RBI, while Boley drove in three and Luetticke crossed the plate the same number of times. Horton also scored three runs, while Ellis provided two “ribbies.”

Even with all of their scoring, the Lady Hornets still managed to strand a bunch of baserunners – nine to be exact.

Boley (1-2) was in command of her “stuff” and the strike zone throughout her win, firing strikes on 48 of her 63 deliveries. She started 15 of the 20 batters she faced with strikes.

“Kinlei was very efficient in the circle,” coach Rucker assessed. “Right now, she’s commanding the strike zone with four of her pitches, which makes it tough on hitters.”

The zero erased from their “wins” column after a busy first six days of the 2020 season, the softball Lady Hornets now shift focus to their Midland Empire Conference schedule. It will begin Tuesday (Sept. 8) with a home game against St. Joseph: Lafayette.

“We’re looking to carry some momentum over from this game into the Lafayette game,” says the newly-minted winning coach.

Jones leads low-key links triumph

CHILLICOTHE — With no team competition to concern themselves with, since there were only two opposing players, the CHS golfers got improvement from the previous Monday’s match from two players and decline from the other three as they toured Green Hills Golf Course in something less than normal match focus.

Senior star Hallie Jones led the seven players with a 45, five swings more than she took in the season opener, with Putnam County’s Abbie Koenen close behind with a 47 as they played together.

Chillicothe’s second-lowest score of the day came from junior Abbey Hayen, who, in only her second competition ever, whacked 13 shots off her debut score with a 57.

Next for CHS were sophomore Skyler Powers’ 58 and junior Brooklyn Williams’ 62, a score which sophomore Maddie Ellis matched. Ellis had a 70 in the opener.

Putnam County’s other player had a 73.

The golf Lady Hornets, who originally had expected to face at least someone from Trenton in addition to the pair of Lady Midgets from Unionville, now are idle for a week until the Sept. 10 St. Joseph: Central Tournament.