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Chillicothe (Mo.) HS Softball Lady Hornets Crush, Silence Savannah Thursday

Paul Sturm
psturm@chillicothenews.com
2020 Chillicothe (Mo.) HS tennis Lady Hornets junior Audrey Snider swats a forehand return as No. 3 doubles partner Izzy Garr looks on a few games into their set against visiting St. Joseph: Benton Thursday, Sept. 17. Although they were unaware of it at the time, the Snider/Garr combo - in varsity action because of the absence of two lineup regulars - provided CHS' only doubles win of the match, prevailing 8-3. When they also each won their respective singles sets, the Lady Hornets rallied to win the match 5-4.

Two 2020 Chillicothe (Mo.) HS fall sports teams were missing a couple of members during competition Thursday (Sept. 17), but the softball Lady Hornets weren’t short of anything against a 2019 first-team All-State pitcher and last fall’s Class 3 state third-place squad.

Three CHS batters ripped home runs to back the 2-hits, shutout pitching of Kinlei Boley in a 10-0 Midland Empire Conference diamond decision at Savannah.

“This was a good win against a really good team,” asserted Chillicothe first-year head coach Lee Rucker.

“Savannah is the defending MEC champion and finished third in state last year. Their pitcher, Kenzie Schopfer, was first-team All-State last season.”

While the softball squad was winning big, the tennis Lady Hornets were meeting the challenge of again being minus two of their top three players. After dropping two of three doubles sets, Chillicothe’s racquet girls got the better of the singles action to nip visiting St. Joseph: Benton 5-4.

Also at home, two of the golf Lady Hornets’ five team members weren’t available, so there was no team competition when players from Southwest Livingston and Princeton came to town.

The only competition was on an individual basis, which CHS senior Hallie Jones again dominated, shooting a second-straight 9-holes round of 39.

Also in action Thursday were the volleyball Lady Hornets at St. Joseph: Bishop LeBlond and the girls’ and boys’ cross country running teams at the Platte County Invitational. No results from those events had been received yet as of the original posting of this content.

Softball Lady Hornets stay hot, torch MEC champ

SAVANNAH, Mo. — In stunningly-dominant fashion, CHS’ softball squad trumped its season-starting 4-games losing streak by extending the win skein which immediately followed to five Thursday with a 10-0 6-innings conference triumph over Savannah’s Lady Savages.

“The girls executed the game plan really well and were rewarded with a big conference win on the road,” coach Rucker assessed. “I could not be any more proud of them.”

Junior catcher Mika Hibner ripped her second home run in three games over the center field fence with two runners on and one out in the top of the first inning, establishing a rapid 3-0 lead which proved more than enough for starting and winning pitcher Kinlei Boley.

The sophomore righthander, for a third time this season, carried a perfect game into the fourth inning of a start and cruised to a complete-game 2-hitter.

Boley (4-2) faced only two batters over the minimum. While Chillicothe (5-4, 2-0 conf.) did allow one batter to reach on an error, Hibner picked off SHS’ first baserunner of the day in the fourth.

While Hibner went first in the CHS long-ball parade with her seventh career blast and second of ’20, she wasn’t the last in line.

Sophomore second baseman Bre Pithan launched a solo shot over the left-center field fence in the second inning and senior Brooke Horton connected for the second time this fall with two on in the fifth, her blast to right-center making it 9-0.

When Boley singled home Halle Rucker with two outs in the sixth, it created the chance for a shortened CHS victory. The hurler then made that reality with another 1-2-3 inning in the bottom half.

Statistically, in addition to the trio of Chillicothe roundtrippers, leadoff batter Sophia Luetticke was three for four for a second-consecutive game with two of her hits doubles.

Boley had another perfect day at the dish, going two for two with two walks, two runs scored, and three knocked in, matching the run production Horton and Hibner had with one swing each. Hibner had a pair of hits and a walk.

“Our girls did a great job of laying off pitches up in the zone and out of the zone,” dissected their coach. “Schopfer's best pitch is her rise ball and our focus was to lay off those pitches that were shoulder-high and make her come down into the zone where we could drive the ball.”

In the pitcher’s circle, Boley was in the strike zone or got a swing on over 70% of her deliveries. Of the 20 batters she faced, her first pitch was a strike to 16 of them.

The shutout win was Chillicothe’s first of the season.

The softball Lady Hornets next are due to play Monday, at home against non-conference opponent Lexington.

Fill-ins help fuel CHS tennis triumph

CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — Junior Audrey Snider, an occasional member of the singles lineup, and freshman Izzy Garr, who made her varsity-level debut only two days before, teamed for the Chillicothe HS tennis Lady Hornets’ only doubles win in Thursday’s home match against St. Joseph: Benton.

When each turned around and won their singles sets, as well, the home team, despite the absence of two of its top three players for a second outing in a row, had pulled out a 5-4 Midland Empire Conference match win.

Down 2-1 after doubles play, Chillicothe coach Karen Jackson’s revamped lineup resulted in Benton easily capturing the Nos. 1 and 3 singles sets, the very positions absent senior veterans Delaney May and Megan Sisson normally occupy.

That meant winning any of the other four singles sets would make Benton a girls’ tennis winner over Chillicothe (3-2, 2-2 conf.) for the first time since 2009, but the least-experienced Lady Hornets didn’t let that happen (not that they were aware of the recent history).

The only holdover from last year’s CHS district-championship team available Thursday – junior Leah Lourenco – did her share by out-battling her No. 2 foe 9-7.

Meanwhile, classmate Olivia Anderson, replaced by Jackson – presciently, it turns out – in the singles lineup with Snider in some earlier matches to help give Snider some varsity seasoning, was posting Chillicothe’s most-decisive victory of the day, an 8-2 win at No. 4.

Snider had a fairly-close battle at No. 5, but evened her season singles mark at 2-2 by prevailing 8-5.

Garr was more emphatic in her No. 6 singles set, netting her first-ever varsity singles triumph by an 8-3 margin.

The match was a rare one in which the team which claimed the No. 1 set in each style of play came out on the short end of the team result.

In No. 1 doubles, Benton’s Kelly Horn and Sydney Brown outlasted CHS sophomore Cami Carpenter and Lourenco 8-5. In No. 1 singles, Horn topped Lady Hornet Carpenter 8-3.

In junior-varsity mini-sets, Chillicothe’s Emma Crowe, Mallory Grable, Tayler Epperson, and Bryton BeVelle all won in singles and Grable and BeVelle took a doubles set, too.

Due next for the tennis Lady Hornets is Monday’s MEC home match against St. Joseph: Bishop LeBlond.

Jones stays under 40 again in home golf match

CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — Playing on their home Green Hills Golf Course – often the site of either the postseason district or sectional tourney in which CHS competes – for a third time already with the annual Chillicothe Invitational Tournament looming next Thursday, Chillicothe’s Lady Hornets were without both junior Brooklyn Williams  and sophomore Maddie Ellis Thursday, meaning neither they nor Southwest Livingston had a sufficient number of players for a team score as they gathered with Princeton in a late-scheduled match.

That left only individual standings to be determined and, with CHS 3-times state qualifier Hallie Jones on the course, that predictably was an exercise in playing for second place, at best.

Jones, who’d posted 9-holes rounds of 40 and 45 on her home layout in the previous two GHGC outings for the 2020 Lady Hornets, did better than that this time around, posting a second-straight 39 to claim match medalist honor by a wide margin. Her fourth prep-career 9-holes round in the 30s cropped her 2020 scoring average to 41.8.

Thursday’s second-best score belonged to Southwest Livingston’s Makenna Campbell with her 52, two shots lower than lone teammate Lily Webb.

Right behind Webb at 55 was Chillicothe first-year player Skyler Powers. CHS junior Abbey Hayen finished in 63 strokes.

“I thought the girls played well,” first-year Chillicothe coach Darren Smith commented. “I’m really pleased with their progress.”

Princeton’s best score was a 56 on the par-36 course.

Whichever golf Lady Hornets are available will go to Sedalia for a tournament Monday, weather permitting.